As drones become faster and newly-developed missiles gain precision and accuracy, combat scenarios are starting to look more and more like futuristic war games. And, at this year’s Formidable Shield, some of the Royal Navy’s best ships are ready to demonstrate just how deadly their missiles can be.
First in line is HMS Dragon, the air defense destroyer that looks intimidating with her spinning egg-shaped radar placed high on her main mast that’s able to detect and monitor a missile’s trajectory from launch until it is destroyed. Her Sea Viper missile system will be used to ensure protection for a task group during the exercise. In fact, one of its main missions will be to intercept a Firejet target drone, flying at over 400 mph (644 kph), close to the water surface.
But there will be supersonic high-diving weapon systems flying at a 12,000 mph (19,000 kph) speed, which is 16 times faster than the speed of sound. These are the bold, in-your-face enemies. However, the ships will also have to provide protection against the “sneaky” sea-skimmers, which are drones that fly at less than 50 ft (15 meters) above the water’s surface, and at speeds below the speed of sound, to avoid being detected by radars.
Besides the Sea Viper missiles, the Sea Ceptor system will also be used against these two types of drones, with the help of HMS Lancaster and HMS Argyll frigates. Other systems, such as the US-made Sea Sparrow, and Standard Missiles 2, will also be tested during the live-fire operations. And high-end software will assist the crew in detecting the incoming threats.
All in all, it looks like there’s going to be an interesting tour de force at Formidable Shield 2021.