Sea Wolf missile

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The Sea Wolf is a naval missile, MBDA is the prime contractor. It is an anti-missile missile, designed as a final line of missile defence against both sea-skimming and high angle anti-ship missiles. It can also operate against aircraft.

The current missile is the third generation Block 2 VL Seawolf, a vertical launch system. It has been used by the Royal Navy since 1979 and has been fired in anger during the Falklands War and in the Persian Gulf. Current deployment is on Type 22 and Type 23 frigates, the newer ships taking 32 missile silos. It is expected to remain in service until 2020.

An individual missile is 3 m (1.98 m) long, a slim 18 cm in diameter, and masses 140 kg (82 kg). Powered by a solid fuel rocket engine the missile has a maximum velocity of Mach 2 and an intercept range of 300 m to 6.5 km, or 10 km and 3000m in altitude. The 14 kg warhead is a proximity fuzed HE-fragmenting type.

The Seawolf system is fully automated, on-board it is sited in maintenance free canisters, sealed until use, with two tracking radars. It is passed targets from higher systems which it then locks using its own radar. The missile is automatically launched vertically, but it is very quickly flipped onto its target path by thrust vectoring. The boost and vectoring stages then separate and the ship-board system issues guidance commands through a Automatic Command to Line of Sight (ACLOS) device controlling the rear fins of the missile. The manufacturers claim the missile can intercept 114 mm shells.

The system was developed by BAC from a 1964 requirement. A contract was awarded in 1967 to BAC, Vickers and Bristol Aerojet. Testing lasted from 1970 until 1977. It was first deployed on the Type 22 and Leander class frigates in six missile canisters.


See also: List of missiles

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