Royal Navy rolls out supersonic missiles for frontline protection of HMS Queen Elizabeth


The Royal Navy has rolled out new supersonic missiles after the new weapons exceeded expectations during trials. The missiles are intended to protect the fleet’s aircraft carriers.

Wildcat helicopters alongside RFA Argus took part in the final trials of the Martlet and Sea Venom missiles. 

Both weapons come under the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon banner, with the Martlet designed to take out small boats while the Sea Venom possesses ten-times the strength and aimed at punching through armoured warships.

About 30 people, including air crew, scientists, test pilots and technicians from across the Navy, industry and Ministry of Defence, were involved in the trials which took place in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Wildcats from 815 Naval Air Squadron landed and took off more than 900 times during the trials in varying conditions and carrying different payloads.

Forth was among 20 ships, more than 20 aircraft and two submarines from 16 nations, including the United States, Spain, Uruguay, France and Chile. 

Operations Officer Lieutenant William Morris said: “The exercise was a valuable opportunity for Forth’s Warfare Department to exercise in ways they never usually would – everyone from AB to Officer learned an enormous amount from operating with a multinational task group, and Forth stands ready to conduct future exercises to a similar high standard.”

It comes as Frigate HMS Lancaster and minehunter HMS Hurworth tested the use of uncrewed tech, including drones and underwater survey vessels, which could be used by NATO on the frontline of future operations.

For the month-long trials, more than 11 warships, 120 autonomous vehicles and 1,500 military and civilian personnel from 15 NATO countries have taken over waters near the Troia Peninsula, Portugal.

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It is the first time the Royal Navy ships has sent ships for the exercise with participation previously involving crewless boats and drones. 

News of the exercises came as questions were raised in parliament over how well guarded the UK’s assets at sea are.

Lord West of Spithead, who served as First Sea Lord from 2002 to 2006, told parliament just three patrol boats routinely guard UK waters, containing critical offshore assets such as oil platforms, undersea cables and gas pipelines.

He pointed out that in the 1980s there were 17 undertaking the same task.

He tackled the Government over whether there was sufficient current protection, amid heightened international tensions after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing conflict.

It came after attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, which have been blamed on Russia.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has said the series of explosions which caused major damage were “clearly an act of sabotage”.

In response, a Royal Navy frigate was deployed to the North Sea.

Referring to the UK’s exclusive economic zone assets, which he dubbed the “offshore tapestry”, Lord West said: “We have some 300,000 square miles to be looked after and to guard this the Navy at the moment deploys three patrol boats

“In the 1980s we had 17 ships. Does the minister think three patrol ships are sufficient and what work is being undertaken to review the level of protection of these incredibly important national assets on the seabed in view of the current war in Europe and the possibility of a world war?”

Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said she did not recognise the figures, adding: “He will know the constraint I am under in referring to specific operational activity. We always keep an eye on operational requirement and that is why we plan scheduled maintenance to make sure we are always able to maintain the essential task which we require of the Navy.”

Lady Goldie also pointed to the “very exciting” shipbuilding programme, which was seeing two types of frigate built simultaneously at UK yards.


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