The British Royal Navy's HMS Iron Duke successfully carried out a Seawolf missile launch, proving its new cutting edge 3D radar system.
Iron Duke is the first ship in the fleet to have the new radar – Artisan, which was used to track a sea-skimming target ahead of the missile knocking it out of the sky off the coast of Portland. The frigate completed a refit last year.
Its revamp also received the latest version of Seawolf – a missile which has protected Royal Navy frigates from air attack for more than 30 years.
Artisan successfully tracked the target – which acts like a sea-skimming missile – then passed the data to the Seawolf system to follow and shoot, successfully blasting the object out of the Channel sky with a direct hit.
“We had just finished eight hard weeks of training where we’d used Seawolf in simulation mode to defend ourselves against hostile aircraft and missiles,” said Lieutenant Commander Chris L’Amie, one of Iron Duke’s principal war officers who was directing the firing from the frigate’s operations room. “To cap off the training with a live shoot was hugely satisfying. I’m pleased the team performed well and we achieved the firing quickly and efficiently. It really boosted confidence in the new radar ahead of Iron Duke’s deployment.”
Lt Cdr Jim Hyde, whose Short Range Air Defence (SHORAD) team is responsible for both Artisan and the upgraded Seawolf, was on board Iron Duke for the successful shoot. “Following a challenging trials and development programme, today was significant as it was the first time we have conducted a live firing with 997,” he said. “It was rewarding to see both the new radar and the upgraded weapon system operate together perfectly, successfully demonstrating end-to-end combat system performance, and validating a lot of hard work done by agencies across MOD and in industry.”
Artisan is being fitted to the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates as well as its two new aircraft carrier and assault ships Ocean and Albion. It could also be the principal air radar of the Type 26 combat ship, successor to the 23s, which enter service next decade. As well as being able to track up to 800 targets simultaneously, it can do so if they’re 200 metres from Iron Duke – that’s roughly the width of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour – or 200 kilometres (125 miles) away.