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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded MBDA a £100 million Demonstration and Manufacture contract for the SeaCeptor air defence system for the UK Royal Navy’s (RN) new class of frigate, the Type 26 (T26) Global Combat Ship (GCS). This advanced missile system will provide the principal air defence of the T26 and nearby ships against advanced airborne threats including sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, fast jets, helicopters, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

The contract is for the SeaCeptor system and its CAMM (Common Anti-air Modular Missile) munition and will run for 10 years, involving support to the T26 design as well as the manufacture of the electronics equipment required for the class of eight ships.

Welcoming the contract announcement, James Allibone MBDA’s UK Sales & Business Development Director said: “This investment in the SeaCeptor system is going to give the Royal Navy and partner navies outstanding air defence cover. Thanks to the Portfolio Management Agreement with the UK MoD, MBDA is providing a common missile system for both naval and land use thereby significantly reducing the cost that would have been involved in developing separate systems.

With SeaCeptor now selected for five different naval platform types around the world, MBDA sees further potential for the system and the CAMM family of missiles with other navies. "Naval air defence is more critical than ever given the growing capability of airborne threats," Dave Armstrong, MBDA Executive Group Director Sales & Business Development and UK Managing Director, stated. "CAMM’s operational flexibility and ease of integration, both as a retrofit or on a new build, combine to offer unrivalled product advantages. Customers appreciate that they are looking at a product which is at the very start of its lifecycle, a product that represents the very latest in air defence technology and one that will be supported with ongoing through life enhancements for at least the next thirty years or more."

Work on building eight Type 26 frigates at Clyde shipyards will start next summer, Michael Fallon, UK Secretary of State for Defence, recently stated, explaining the date for cutting the first steel would safeguard hundreds of skilled jobs until 2035. He also announced that a contract for two new offshore patrol vessels (OPV) would be signed shortly, securing jobs before the Type 26 frigate work is under way. 

The Type 26 frigate is principally designed for anti-submarine warfare and will partially replace the current Type 23 frigate.

An £859 million initial development deal to build the combat ships, at BAE Systems' Govan and Scotstoun yards on the River Clyde in Glasgow, was signed in February 2015. The number of planned new frigates was later scaled back from 13 to eight in the Strategic Defence Review, with the MoD now planning to build five smaller Type 31 warships in addition to the Type 26 fleet.

SeaCeptor CAMM launched from Type 26 (Graphic: MBDA)

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