Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome Sea Ceptor

As anticipated a few days ago, one nice news of Planning Round 2012 is that the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM) has finally hit Main Gate, with a 5 years contract worth 483 million pounds being signed for the completition of work on the Future Local Area Air Defence - Maritime (FLAADS-M) system, the naval iteration of CAMM.

The Royal Navy name for the new missile system, that will replace Sea Wolf, is Sea Ceptor. The missile, a very interesting and innovative system, i have already widely described here.
MBDA's own description of the system says:

CAMM(M) provides a 360° air defence capability for naval forces out to ranges greater than 25km against the current and future air threat. Requiring no dedicated tracker/illuminator radars, CAMM can be cued by a ship’s standard target indication data to provide high levels of protection against multiple simultaneous targets in open ocean and littoral environments. It can also be used against surface targets. The weapon system, which incorporates a 2-way data-link to CAMM missiles in flight, is intended for vessels of corvette size or larger, for either new ships or as a retrofit.
CAMM(M) launch canisters are compatible with SYLVER and Mk41 family launch silos with CAMM utilising features such as folding missile fins to maximise launch canister packing density. The introduction of “soft launch” techniques reduces system mass and allows for more flexibility in terms of installation positions on a ship.


CAMM(L) will provide future land forces with an easily transportable and rapidly deployable local area air defence system capable of operating as a stand alone unit or of being integrated within a future battlespace network. The small foot-print of a CAMM launch site and the low-signature of a CAMM launch increases survivability of air defence assets. CAMM(L) is capable of engaging Non Line of Sight (NLOS) targets if 3rd party targeting information is available; this feature is particularly attractive for engaging concealed Attack Helicopters and low-flying terrain-following cruise missiles.
CAMM(L) is logistically easy to manage with packs of CAMM(L) canisters slotting into launcher frames, so there is no need for man-handling of actual missiles onto launch rails.


The CAMM missile is easily adaptable for air launch from Fast Jets. With modular seeker options and the latest datalink technology, CAMM(A) offers a next generation air-to-air capability. CAMM(A) benefits from MBDA’s experience on the world leading ASRAAM and Meteor air-to-air missile products.

The missile can be quad-packed into a MK41 or Sylver cell, so that, if we were to replace the short-range Aster 15 with CAMM on a Type 45, we could increase the missile load from 48 missiles to 96 without changing the number of missile cells [a standard mix on a Type 45 is thought to be 32 long-range Aster 30 and 16 Aster 15].
Maximum range is around 25 Km and the speed is expected to be superior to Mach 2.5, possibly reaching Mach 3, as the missile is derived from the Mach 3.5 ASRAAM. The latest articles on the press contain an interesting data, putting the "protected area" extension for Sea Ceptor at 800 square kilometers. This means a circular area with the launching ship in the middle and with a radius of roughly 16 km.
Data appearing on the press is, of course, not the best source to make conclusions from, but 16 km is probably a realistic engagement distance, especially against sea-skimming targets. Anti-ship missiles can be expected to be intercepted even closer: the Sea Viper trials saw the Aster 30 missile shooting down an Exocet at 9 km, after all. It is a serious enhancement over Sea Wolf, which is slower, has less range and is not fire and forget but is guided all along by heavy and bulky radar illuminators mounted on the Type 23s in number of two.

MBDA's beautiful interactive catalogue contains excellent data on the CAMM. Be sure to check all pages, and look at the video as well: it is possibly the most interesting thing of all as it shows how the Type 23 will be modified for using CAMM in replacement of Sea Wolf, something that should happen by 2016. The video shows the massive Sea Wolf radar systems and electronics being removed, and the missile silo modified to take 12 quadpacks of CAMM missiles, increasing the loadout of the frigate to 48 missiles.


  1. Gabriele

    Fascinating article. Any news yet on an in-service date for the land version of the missile? It would be nice to see at least some new equipment brought into the core for the British Army. Last date I heard was 2018, still 6 years away! Willl the carrier be an ordinary truck? Might be an idea to put them on redundant MLRS carriers. There should be enough of those and they would be armoured to a certain extent.

  2. 2018 is indeed the date, even if it might be 2020 before Rapier effectively is replaced. The mover will be the MAN HX60 4x4 flatbed truck already used by the Army. It would not be convenient for a number of reasons to put them on heavy, bulky tracked platforms. Better to put armour on the HX60, which can take a protection kit, if it ever proves necessary. The truck solution also makes it all cheaper.

  3. Thanks very much for the reply, Gabriele. I've watched the video of the maritime version of the missile and it is highly impressive. The fact that the missile is ejected cold, with no exhaust, heat or flames is extremely ingenious.

  4. It really is... but really, it is even smarter to make the missile system radar-agnostic. It can work with whatever 2D or 3D radar the ship has: wonderful for ease of integration and cost-effectiveness.

    I have big hopes for CAMM on the export market in the future: it should beat the hell out of competitors such as MICA-VL and other systems. It really has some great points.

  5. even so the american evolved sea sparrow missile can also be quad packed into a Mk41 vls but it has a range of up to 50km doubling that of the sea ceptor and a higher speed mach 4+. although I don't believe it has a land attack role and im not sure on its guidance system parameters and whether they are superior to the ceptor, but it seems to me that the MOD are not able to fulfil their promise of quality not quantity. I mean look at the type 45, 48 cells compared to 96 on a US destroyer its pathetic. and the type 45 has no anti-ship/land strike capability. I don't even know how they let them operate independently in the Falklands currently without these capabilities. I don't even think their equipped with CIWS!!. and to make things worse they are only fitted with 3m vls tubes so we cant even place surface strike cruise missiles without having to shed out further millions to have them changed. although I'am much impressed with the new type 26 design which shows much promise.

    1. ESSM is not fire and forget, though. It can be saturated far more easily than a CAMM system, due to the ship's radar having to track the target and guide the missile all the way to the enemy target.

      As for Type 45, it is an european ship, not an american one. The approach is different, and the UK is not planning a war on China anytime soon. Type 45 has top class missiles, better than the american's AEGIS-Standard. There are less missiles, but an easy solution to massively increase the number of weapons carried without changing anything in the structure would be to replace the short-range Aster 15 with CAMM in quad-packs.
      Instead of 16 Aster 15 and 32 Aster 30, you'd get up to 64 CAMM and 32 long range interceptors.
      And there is space for a further 16 cells.

      As for CIWS, HMS Daring has them, HMS Diamond has them and they should be fitted to all Type 45s in due course. For a Falklands deployment, it was not assessed as necessary, with the priority for fitting given to the Gulf-bound vessels.
      One after the other, they'll all get Phalanx.

    2. I think that you make some relevant points, but to be honest, as is so often the case on this type of site the quality of the English is much lower than the quality of the thinking expressed.

    3. Sorry. I know my english is still far from perfect, but i can only do my best. That's all i can do. I'm not a native speaker, and it shows.

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  7. Hi Gabriele

    Please ignore some comments made regarding your quality of english the points made are all very relevant

    1. Thank you. I try not to let the comments get to me too much, and i do my best to improve.

    2. Gabriele,
      You can only do your best and in my opinion, for what it is worth, you do very well.


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