UK: A successful year for the Weapons Operating
19 January 2022 – DE&S Weapons Operating Centre (WOC) enjoyed a busy and fruitful 2021, with numerous successful test firings and trials of complex weapons. Members of the WOC engaged in important activity across the globe, from the USA to the Outer Hebrides and from Sweden to the Pacific Ocean.
Last summer, after years of planning and COVID-19 delays, the MBDA-developed SPEAR Cap 4 upgrade of the Storm Shadow missile was put through its paces at US Naval Air Warfare Centre China Lake.
This operational evaluation (OpEval) saw four missiles successfully launched from RAF Typhoons, proving the effectiveness of this latest upgrade to the weapons system, including operations under GPS FEATURE jamming conditions. DE&S Long Range Precision Strike Delivery Team leader James Dowson said: “Our LRPS deployed team in the US, led by Wayne Bantick and supported by all in the UK team, have FEATURE expended tremendous effort to deliver an incredibly complex trial in very demanding conditions.”
In October, the new lightweight Martlet system achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC) following a successful firing against at a floating target. The missile was launched from an embarked Wildcat HMA Mk2 helicopter, of 815 Naval Air Squadron, during Carrier Strike Group 21.
The new anti-boat swarm missile system provides an offensive and defensive capability for a carrier strike group and will help protect the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers from attacks by small boats. Royal Navy Air Wing Commander, Capt James Blackmore, said: “This first firing during an operational deployment not only gives confidence. But also offers an overt demonstration of one of the many strike capabilities provided by the Air Wing from the Task Group.”
Other notable milestones in 2021 included the firing of an Aster missile from Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon in the Hebrides Ranges last May as part of the NATO International Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) live-firing exercise known as exercise FORMIDABLE SHIELD 21. Land Ceptor also achieved notable success following testing last June. Three successful firings were conducted at the White Sands Missile Range in the US. Similarly, CAMM was surface launched from Type 23 frigate HMS Portland to demonstrate its Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC) capabilities.
ASRAAM Block 6 moved closer to achieving IOC on Typhoon following OpEval testing in the Hebrides Ranges in October. A total of six missile launches were conducted to demonstrate the latest upgrades to this highly-capable missile system.
And finally, Brimstone 3A completed its second set of surface-to-surface test firings at the Vidsel range in Sweden. The three launches successfully engaged static and moving targets in a variety of modes.
Mark Dannatt, DE&S Head of Complex Weapons Delivery, said: “2021 was another challenging year for missile system delivery and not without its setbacks. delivery to UK Armed Forces However, working with our industrial partners MBDA and Thales, significant and tangible progress has been made in delivery to UK Armed Forces. “Whether this be in land, sea or air environments, defence is benefitting from the introduction of new capability and upgrades, as well as in-service support of existing systems, some of which have seen active service in operational theatres.”
Source MoD “Desire” – Issue 161 – January 2022
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