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Soldiers see Navy's new shield against air attack on HMS Westminster

Soldiers see Navy's new shield against air attack
12 September 2016
Soldiers who shoot down enemy aircraft were given an insight into the Royal Navy’s new anti-air missile when they visited HMS Westminster.

The frigate is in the closing stages of a major overhaul in Portsmouth Naval Base which has seen her become one of the first ships in the Fleet to receive Sea Ceptor, the new short-range shield against air attack.

The weapon and its supporting radar system will gradually replace the tried-and-tested (but also ageing – a version saw action in the Falklands) Seawolf missiles fitted across the Type 23 frigate flotilla.

In its place, the vertically-launched supersonic Sea Ceptor which is slightly heavier than its predecessor and has a much greater range: more than 25km (15 miles), two and a half times the distance of Seawolf.

The gunners of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, based at Thorney Island – just along the coast from Portsmouth – currently use the veteran Rapier missile to provide their infantry and armoured comrades with cover on the battlefield.

The introduction of Ceptor is a real opportunity for both us and 16 Regiment to learn from each other

Lieutenant Commander Chris L’Amie, HMS Westminster’s Senior Naval Officer

Rapier is on the verge of retirement, in favour of a ground-based version of Sea Ceptor (short for interceptor).

Officers and senior non-commissioned officers from 16 Regiment, led by Lieutenant Colonel James Mardlin, made the short trip to Portsmouth to hear both from the ship’s company and from the new missile’s developers MBDA about progress with the system to date and what the future might hold in store for Ceptor.

“We are excited about being able to work together over the next few years,” said Lieutenant Commander Chris L’Amie, Westminster’s Senior Naval Officer.

“The introduction of Ceptor is a real opportunity for both us and 16 Regiment to learn from each other. We will continue to foster a strong working relationship with our closest military neighbours.”

His ship will return to the Fleet next year once the fitting of Sea Ceptor, a new medium-range radar and an improved computer system have been completed, among scores of improvements. The new-look Westminster will be the Royal Navy’s premier submarine hunter.

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