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MBDA bags contract to produce Sea Ceptor supersonic missile for UK

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A graphical representation of the Sea Ceptor missile system. An MBDA photo

LONDON (BNS): European missile maker MBDA has received a contract worth £250M (($391 million) from the British Defence Ministry to produce the Sea Ceptor supersonic missile system.

The deal was announced on Tuesday by UK's Defence Secretary Philip Hammond at the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition, being held at London's ExCeL Centre.

Britain had unveiled its plans for the Sea Ceptor weapon system in January 2012 when it awarded a £483 million ($760 million) contract to MBDA to design and develop the supersonic missile to protect the Royal Navy's warships from hostile missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.

The Sea Ceptor will travel at speeds of up to Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) and will have the ability to deal with multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area out to a range of 25 kilometres.

It will complement the longer range Sea Viper system on the Type 45 destroyers, providing the Royal Navy with a full range of missile systems to defeat current and future threats, according to the Defence Ministry.

The Sea Ceptor will initially be equipped on the Navy's Type 23 frigates from 2016 onwards, replacing the Sea Wolf air defence system.

Later, the missile will be integrated on the multirole Type 26 Global Combat Ship, presently under development, as the primary air defence system.

The Type 26 class frigates are slated to replace the Type 23 frigates by 2020s.

Although Sea Ceptor will initially be used by the Royal Navy, its flexible design means that in future it could also be adapted for use by the Army and RAF, the Defence Ministry said.

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