Highlands & Islands

Firing trials of Royal Navy's new missile completed

Test firing of a Sea Ceptor missile Image copyright Royal Navy/MoD
Image caption The new missiles were test fired on the Hebrides Rocket Range

The first firing trials of the Royal Navy's new air missile defence system have been completed successfully, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

The Sea Ceptor missiles were launched on Scotland's Hebrides Rocket Range from HMS Argyll, a Type 23 frigate.

The weapons can intercept and destroy enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.

Sea Ceptors are to be installed on all Type 23 frigates to protect the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers.

Once installed, the frigates are to carry out trials of the weapons, which are also design for use against helicopters and jets.

HMS Argyll was involved in two sets of trials, each lasting about two weeks.

During the firings the system was first tested against single aerial targets.

This was followed by "more demanding tests", including a single target engaged by two missiles and a twin firing - two targets each engaged by a single missile at the same time.

New record

The crew of HMS Argyll is now preparing for deployment to Japan next year.

The warship is to be part of the UK's contribution to a US-led show of force against North Korea's test firing of ballistic missiles.

Another Type 23 frigate, HMS Sutherland, is due to deploy to Australia in the New Year as part of the same effort.

Image copyright Royal Navy/MoD
Image caption Sea Ceptors are to be installed on the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates

The Hebrides Rocket Range, set up in the 1950s, has sites on Benbecula, North and South Uist and a radar station on the remote St Kilda archipelago.

The range offers the largest area in the UK for the live-firing of rockets and missiles.

In the autumn, a new record for the largest and highest object launched into space from the UK was set at the range.

The Terrier Oriole rocket was launched from Benbecula in the Western Isles during Nato exercise Formidable Shield.

The rocket, used by US space agency Nasa and almost 4m (13ft) long, reached an altitude of 155.6 miles (250km).

The Terrier Oriole was used to represent a ballistic missile and was tracked and then destroyed.

Earlier this week, there was criticism from Western Isles political figures about the loss of nine jobs at the range.

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