Tuesday, October 12, 2010

U.K. Launches Final Type 45 Destroyer

BAE Systems has launched HMS Duncan, the sixth and final Type 45 destroyer destined for the Royal Navy. The anti-air warship will be fitted out at the company's Goven, Scotland, shipyard and is scheduled to enter service in 2014.

The warships can operate helicopters up to the size of a Chinook and can carry about 60 Royal Marines or other troops.

Originally, the British planned to acquire 12 Type 45s, but that was cut to eight and finally six as the cost of the program increased and the stretched defense budget resulted in the decline in RN destroyer and frigate numbers.

What should have been a 5-billion-pound ($8 billion) program to build six ships with the first vessel entering service in Nov 2007 ballooned into a 6.4-billion-pound project; the first ship, HMS Daring, entered service only in mid-2009.

The Sea Viper, better known as the Aster 30 missile in French and Italian naval service, is not yet operational due to now-resolved technical problems. That may change in the next few months.

Earlier this month, the MoD said the second of class, HMS Dauntless, had successfully conducted the first test firing of the Sea Viper missile from a Type 45. The weapon hit a moving target drone at a range off northern Scotland.

An MoD spokesman said that progress on the test firings front would allow Daring "to fire her first Sea Viper missile early in 2011.

"HMS Daring is currently undergoing further operational training and capability development in preparation for her first operational deployment planned for next year," he said.

The RN is expected to lose further capabilities in the upcoming strategic defense and security review and the setting of departmental budgets for the next four years. Both are planned to be unveiled by the Conservative-led coalition government next week.

Amphibious warships, the frigate and destroyer force and possibly one of the two 65,000-ton aircraft carriers now being built are vulnerable to cuts alongside reductions to the Royal Air Force and the Army.

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