First firing trial for UK’s Land Ceptor air defense missile system

The U.K. successfully conducted the first firing trial of the new MBDA-made Land Ceptor air defense missile system at a test range in Sweden, a Ministry of Defence release said.

The trial marked the first time Land Ceptor was test-fired as a complete system, which includes the SAAB Giraffe radar, and followed previous munitions tests, the Monday, May 28 release said.

A video released by the MoD showed the launch of the missile and the destruction of an aerial target.

Land Ceptor comprises the Common Anti-air Modular Missile (CAMM), a launcher vehicle and two fire unit support vehicles and is designed to protect troops from aerial threats, including aircraft and air-launched munitions. According to the release, the system is highly mobile, can be rapidly deployed and can be made ready to fire in less than 20 minutes.

Missiles can be launched in quick succession and the system can simultaneously target eight different threats.

Land Ceptor air defense missile
A composite image of a test of the UK’s Land Ceptor air defense missile system close to the Baltic Sea on a Swedish test fire range. Image UK MoD

“Land Ceptor will be a formidable battlefield barrier, protecting our troops from strikes and enemy aircraft while on operations,” Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

MBDA was awarded a £250 million ($330 million) contract managed by Defence Equipment and Support to develop and manufacture the system.

“This trials firing is an important stepping stone towards bringing Land Ceptor into service with the British Army as part of the wider Sky Sabre air defence system,” Defence Equipment and Support Director Weapons, Richard Smart, said. “Land Ceptor performed as expected and the firing has helped us to verify innovative modelling of overall system performance.”

According to MBDA, Land Ceptor has a range of more than 25 km (15 miles) and is able to intercept airborne targets including cruise missiles and precision guided munitions in all weather conditions.

The modular system is based on the Rheinmetall MAN HX-77 vehicle already in service with the British Army. The launcher is palletised, enabling rapid reload of a full ‘magazine’ of missiles, and can be dismounted for operation in fixed locations. A common interface module means the launcher can be easily integrated onto a wide range of vehicles.

MBDA says the system could be adapted to carry the CAMM-ER extended range interceptor, providing air defense at more than 40 km (25 miles).

Land Ceptor will provide the interceptor element of the U.K.’s Sky Sabre air defense system due to enter service in the early 2020s.

According to the MoD release, Land Ceptor has an engagement range three times greater than the current Rapier system, and the Giraffe radar coupled with Rafael’s Battlespace Management Command, Control, Compute, Communicate and Inform (BMC4I) system within Sky Sabre will be able to detect incoming threats from seven times further away.

The BMC4I system is the same technology employed by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence shield.

The news of the trial comes just days after Williamson announced that the maritime variant – Sea Ceptor – will enter service with the Royal Navy on its Type 23 and Type 26 Frigates. Sea Ceptor completed its firing trials in December.

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