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May 24th 2018, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson announced at the RUSI Sea Power Conference in London, that the Sea Ceptor Missile System (cost: £850m) has become an active part of the Royal Navy.

What is the Sea Ceptor? It is a world-class missile system made by MBDA UK that protects the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.

MBDA, CAMM manufacturer, is a multi-national company with offices in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K., Australia, and the U.S. It is truly an European company as it is a joint-venture between the aerospace giants, Airbus (France) (37.5%), BAE Systems (United Kingdom) (37.5%), and Leonardo (Italy) (25%).

MBDA designs and manufactures missiles and missile systems for a range of operational needs for land, sea, and air. They offer 45 operational missile systems and countermeasure products as well as more than 15 devices which are still being developed.

The Sea Ceptor is the naval variant in the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) programme, designed to provide the next generation of anti-air guided weapons for land, sea and airborne operations. Furthermore, it is fully compatible with existing command and control (C2) and sensors (radars etc) facilities.

Developed and manufactured by MBDA UK under the umbrella of the company’s Portfolio Management Agreement with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the missile will be the core component of the Future Local Area Air Defence System (FLAADS), a requirement for both land and naval environments, replacing Rapier FSC and Seawolf.

Similarity with other MBDA missiles


CAMM missiles will take over existing subsystems from MBDA’s portfolio:

  • Datalink (radar data sharing), C2 (Command and Control) concept and the propulsion from the ASRAAM (Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile);
  • C2 (Command and Control) from Sea Viper (featuring more than 75% re-use of Sea Viper C2 software, the British variant of PAAMS system that equips advanced British, French and Italian anti-aircraft destroyers.)




For over a decade, MBDA UK has been developing its own surface-to-air missiles by using common elements from other systems in its portfolio.

The CAMM project began in 2004 when the UK’s MoD awarded a £10 million Technology Development programme (TDP) to MBDA through the Joint Sensor and Engagement Networks Integrated Project Team. This first phase included carry-on studies related to the Soft Vertical Launch system, a dual band two-way datalink, an active RF Seeker, and open systems architecture to ensure compatibility with a wide range of search and acquisition radars and command and control systems.

The second phase (2008) costing £15 million , was committed to maturing the RF Seeker with trials completed on a QinetiQ test aircraft (a Hawker Siddeley HS-780 Andover C1) at Boscombe Down (United Kingdom). This stage helped out to fulfil the FLAADS’ “business case”.

In 2008, the Complex Weapons Portfolio approach was announced, with FLAADS being one of the pillars of the portfolio to be completed.

In 2009, MBDA UK presented its first prototype to its clients. In order to reduce the development costs, the CAMM system is based on a modular architecture with common subsystems (self-steering, data link, actuator, proximity fuse…). The demonstrator took over existing subsystems, such as the Datalink (radar data sharing) and the C2 (Command and Control) concept and the propulsion of the ASRAAM (Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile) developed by MBDA.

In 2011, MBDA announced the Sea Ceptor Missile System, the navy variant of the FLAADS. Tests were carried out in 2011 from a truck to get exploitable data for the FLAADS-Land programme.



CAMM – Sea Ceptor


With minimal logistical support and maintenance required, MBDA’s Sea Ceptor Air Defence Weapons System is an appealing choice to navies.

In 2017, Sea Ceptor successfully completed its firing trials from HMS Argyll. It will eventually replace the VL Sea Wolf on the U.K. Royal Navy’s Type 23s. In 2016, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded MBDA a £100 million contract for Sea Ceptor to be integrated into the Royal Navy’s new class of frigate, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship. Sea Ceptor differs from its predecessor Sea Wolf thanks to its added capability of protecting not only the warship, but also nearby vessels. Former U.K. Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, stated that Sea Ceptor would protect British interests against known and unknown threats. She went on to further state that Sea Ceptor will be used by the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates, that are tasked to keep their nuclear deterrent submarines and two new aircraft carriers safe during operations.

Sea Ceptor is an all-weather, active RF seeker, and air defence weapons system, that can be retrofitted on a range of platforms such as 50m OPVs, frigates, and destroyers. The system can fire simultaneously multiple targets with a missile called the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM). CAMM has a powerful rocket motor allowing to propel missiles double the range of that of Sea Wolf, and has an active radar seeker to engage targets, thus eliminating the need for target illuminators.

The system is first of all fitted with a compact launch system with soft vertical launch technology, enabling a 360-degree coverage. This achieves a minimum launch signature, and a two-way datalink between the missile and launcher. Secondly, it is equipped with a gas generator which ejects the missile from its canister. This device has many effects: it conserves the rocket motor’s energy to power the intercept, reduces the minimum intercept range, limites stress on the launch platform, reduces maintenance and costs, and eliminates management of the hot gas efflux on-board. Sea Ceptor operates on the SYLVER and Mk41 launchers using a quad-pack configuration (various flexible canister configurations are available). Over the past five years, MBDA has worked with Lockheed Martin to develop a lightweight version of the MK41 launcher for CAMM. A certificate was signed for a lightweight launcher called ExLS, which is intended for smaller vessels. The launcher allows a soft launch by using compressed air, and capable to fire the main missile motor not on board.

Sea Ceptor can target any surveillance sensor system. With its supersonic speed and range in excess of 25 km, it has broad target settings (high-speed, manoeuvring, or low signature targets), and also  the ability to engage small naval vessels, combat aircrafts, UAVs, and future threats from new generation supersonic anti-ship missiles. In terms of command and control, the system can be integrated with new and existing naval combat systems, and configured to operate as an independent air defence capability, or as an integrated capability within a command and control architecture hosted on the vessel’s combat management system.

Sea Ceptor is capable of defending an area of 500 square miles with the ability to protect the host and nearby vessels from varied sources of attack. Former MBDA U.K. Managing Director, Dave Armstrong, succinctly said that: “Naval air defence is more critical than ever given the growing capability of airborne threats. CAMM’s operational flexibility and ease of integration, both as retrofit or on a new build, combine to offer unrivalled product advantages.”

Recently, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence announced Sea Ceptor had been developed and manufactured through contracts worth around £850 million. This announcement is a severe failure for the Portfolio Management Agreement, through which the U.K. MoD and MBDA continue to operate.

The CAMM programme is today estimated at £1.573 billion only taking into account recent contracts between 2012 and 2018, and not between 2005 and 2012. This leads to think the programme has been through cost overruns due to a lack of competent workforce within the British missile industry.

Sea Ceptor’s Prospective Customers


International customers are choosing CAMM for their future air defence capabilities. 2014 was a successful year for Sea Ceptor with two navies selecting the Air Defence Weapons System for their vessels. In May 2014, the New Zealand Ministry of Defence and MBDA signed a contract for Sea Ceptor to be integrated into the New Zealand Navy’s ANZAC Frigate Systems Upgrade (FSU) project. In November 2014, MBDA announced that Brazil selected Sea Ceptor for its next generation Tamandaré class corvettes. Finally, the Republic of Chile has recently selected Sea Ceptor for its Type-23 frigate.

Sea Ceptor’s popularity has grown since then, with the Spanish Directorate of Armament and Material approving in December 2017 to conduct a technological risk reduction study (worth €9.5 million) to analyse the feasibility of integrating Sea Ceptor onto future F-110 frigates.

Sea Ceptor may also be an option for Finland and its four Squadron 2020 corvettes. Another competitor for this market is Raytheon’s RIM-162 ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile). Raytheon has expanded its missile’s capability from sea-based to a ground-based air defence environment.

Italy’s position is interesting. Officially, CAMM-ER will replace only the Spada system for the Italian Air-Force and the Skyguard system for the Italian Army. However, it is understood that CAMM-ER may also replace some time soon the Albatross system for the Italian Navy in order to maintain a standardisation in procurement already there.



The UK Royal Artillery equivalent is Land Ceptor or Sky Sabre. CAMM will soon replace the British Army’s Rapier ground-based air defence system. The benefits for the U.K. of operating a common missile are multiple, such as significant cost benefits throughout the lifecycle of the systems, development, procurement, support costs, and sharing a common stockpile.

Compared to Rapier, Land Ceptor has over triple the range (25 km+) and is able to intercept the most challenging targets in any weather conditions, including cruise missiles and precision guided munitions.

Land Ceptor made its debut at DSEI 2017 and has been undergoing trials for the British Army. The system has a substantially revised design to initial development prototypes and incorporates numerous new features. It was decided to use the in-service HX-77 as the base vehicle for Land Ceptor, enabling the capabilities of the system to be expanded, whilst minimising the overall fleet size.

According to MBDA UK, a key new feature of the new design is the modular launcher. It features a palletised loading module enabling rapid munition reload of the magazine, and a self-mounting/dismounting capability allowing for a wider range of air/sea/rail transport options and for dismounted operations in fixed/semi-fixed locations. A common interface module means the launcher can be easily integrated onto a wide range of vehicles.

Systems provide flexibility for the launcher to act as an independent fire unit, as well as in a networked battery configuration.

With the engagement of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) targets possible through the use of mid-course guidance and radar updates, it heralds a step-change to the current GBAD system.

This new GBAD system Sky Sabre will be constituted by:

  • The Modular, Integrated C4I Air & Missile Defense System (MIC4AD), Israeli Rafael;
  • The Giraffe AMB radar, Swedish Saab:
  • The Land Ceptor missile, MBDA UK;
  • The RMMV/MAN HX77 Heavy Utility Truck.

The GBAD system Sky Sabre is also benefiting from already used equipment. The 16th Regiment Royal Artillery (RA) is already using Giraffe AMB radar from the Swedish maker Saab, which may help the future transition from Rapier.

Sea Ceptor costs may have been underestimated. Indeed, recent announcements estimate Land Ceptor to cost £723 million. Fourteen systems are to be acquired by the U.K.’s Royal Army.

FLAADS/CAMM-ER Prospective Customers


Land Ceptor is MBDA’s launch configuration of the Enhanced Modular Air Defence Solutions (EMADS) stable.

This increased payload could also be used to further the extended range CAMM-ER interceptor and provide air defence out to 40km+ for customers who require greater range.

EMADS brings together best-of-breed systems and technologies from across MBDA’s European base to save time, development costs and provide a flexible system for air defence provision.

Italy’s current in-service SPADA should be replaced by the CAMM-ER based system.

Focus on Team Complex Weapons (Team CW)


The Team Complex Weapon Framework Agreement (TCW) defines an approach to delivering the UK’s Complex Weapons (CW) requirements in an affordable manner. This value for money proposition also ensures a viable industrial capacity between MBDA UK, Thales UK, QinetiQ and Roxel.

Pressure on defence spending has driven innovation in cost reduction and TCW might be a solution to conduct defence programmes until the end while safely funding them.

The MoD stated within the framework of the Defence Industrial Strategy published at the end of 2005, the establishment of a long-term partnership in the British missile industry in order to maintain industrial skills.

With annual funding of £700 million per year, the programme includes investment of around £7 billion in the complex weapons sector. The TCW is expected to generate £1.2bn in savings over 10 years from 2010 and avoid dispersion of MoD budgets.

An innovative approach to the MOD’s Complex Weapons pipeline has been based on a Partnered Portfolio Management Agreement with MBDA UK Ltd, which focuses on the development of families of weapons utilising the principles of commonality, modularity and re-use. Linkages between weapons in a portfolio should reduce overall costs.

Complex weapons are considered tactical weapons that rely on guidance from systems to achieve precision effects. They fall into five categories:

  • air-to-air,
  • air defence,
  • air-to-surface,
  • anti-ship,
  • surface-to-surface.

It should be noted that the Complex Weapons Programme does not include torpedoes, non-U.K. sourced missile systems or some legacy systems.

According to the 2017 Defence Equipment Plan, only £0.68 billion has been saved to date, however a further £0.67bn is anticipated from contracts already in place that are yet to be announced. The estimated savings (£1.2bn-1.3bn) come from netting off the notional additional costs of single-source procurement from the benefits of the extant procurement strategy.

However as previously said, CAMM’s programmes costs may have been underestimated. Recent announcements do not prove the complete effectiveness in cost saving.

Download our Case Study #03 (21 pages) with tables and figures available in pdf format here :


Written by Julien Brugnetti (Senior Analyst)  for OIDA Strategic Intelligence


With drones gaining more popularity, anti-drone technologies may become a necessary countermeasure in years to come to neutralise drone threats in the defence, commercial, and homeland security sectors by detecting and intercepting drones. Anti-drone technology is also known as counter-UAS, C-UAS, or counter-UAC technology. As in any market segment, anti-drone manufacturers consist of the larger corporates like Thales, Lockheed Martin, and SAAB, however start-ups are becoming fierce competitors with their own in-house innovations, low-cost manufacturing capabilities, and the ability to build anti-drone systems to customer requirements.

Anti-drone technologies can be ground-based (fixed or mobile on buildings or vehicles), hand-held (operated by hand), and UAV-based (mounted on drones). They can have a detection and tracking capability with radar, radio frequency (RF), electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR), acoustic, or combined sensors, and/or an interception capability with RF jamming, GNSS jamming, spoofing (takes control of the drone by accessing the drone’s communication link), laser, nets, and projectiles. Further, anti-drone technologies can initiate controlled landings or instruct the drone to return to the operator. But technologies are not the only option. A company from the Netherlands called Guard From Above, trains birds of prey to intercept drones. The most commonly used drone detection methods are radar, RF detection, EO, and IR – with jammers being the most popular for interception.

Apart from the obvious military and law enforcement applications, the anti-drone market varies greatly to include government installations (such as prisons), commercial venues, critical infrastructure, and airports. Drones are readily available and cheap, a hassle-free option for non-state actors to utilize them for a number of operations. Non-state actors like ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthi rebels, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and Colombian and Mexican drug cartels have all used drones. Drones can be armed with explosive payloads or used as a delivery system for biological or chemical weapons, where the controlled landing of a drone is absolutely critical. However, drones do not necessarily need to be weaponised to cause disruption and can be used as surveillance, recording devices, and delivery vehicles.

The anti-drone market will inevitably grow with a variety of systems available to counter drones’ many applications. The future will see an increase in partnerships between companies wanting to collaborate on anti-drone technologies such as Belgian software company Unifly who recently announced that they have joined forces with Integra Aviation Academy to set up an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system, which alerts pilots on emerging drone threats. To date, the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in the U.S. has identified over 230 anti-drone products manufactured by 155 manufacturers in 33 countries.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA


Aerospace defence is a priority for Russia and since 1995 the A-135 anti-ballistic missile system has been primed to counter enemy missiles targeting Moscow. In February 2018, Russia successfully carried out an air defence missile test at Sary-Shagan in Kazakhstan. The new air defence missile can precisely intercept single and multiple strikes, including new-generation intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and will be added to the upgraded version of the A-135 (reportedly named the A-235). Deputy commander of the Air and Space Defense Alliance, Colonel Andrei Prikhodko, stated that the modernized anti-ballistic missile defence system successfully accomplished the task and struck the conventional target with the specified accuracy.

The Don-2N radar station, located in Sofrino near Moscow, is part of the A-135 and can detect warheads in flight and at a distance of up to 3 700 km. The information received is transmitted to the 5K80 command point and is then further processed and transmitted to missile launching sites with 53T6 interceptors. The A-135 includes 68 short-range 53T6 (Gazelle) interceptors (endo-atmospheric). The 32 long-range 51T6 (Gorgon) interceptors have been removed from the system. The A-135’s upgrade includes high-tech detection and tracking components.



Ballistic missiles can be launched from land and at sea (from submarines beneath the surface) and are classified as intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) with a range of approximately 1000 km to 5 500 km and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with ranges exceeding 5000 km. ICBMs are usually launched from silos – reinforced canisters set into the ground. With regards to an effective early-warning system, Russia has it covered.


Other early warning radar systems include the Daryal radar in Pechora, the Dnepr radar in Murmansk and Kazakhstan, and the Volga radar in Belarus. The Daryal and Dnepr radars are aging with new-generation radars being built in the Komi and Murmansk regions.


The Russian Aerospace Defence Forces monitors space objects and identifies potential threats in space and from space. EKS is the Integrated Space System or Tundra, which replaced the OKO early-warning system. The COSMOS 2510 is the first of a new fleet of satellites capable of detecting missile launches heading for Russia.

The space surveillance network uses the early-warning radar network to monitor objects on low Earth orbits. Over the next few years, Russia plans to install more than ten laser-optical and passive radiofrequency surveillance complexes with the task of permanently monitoring the near-Earth space at all inclinations and at a maximum altitude range.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA



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