The new missile, first announced in April 2021, is intended to provide a compelling solution for arming the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates with an anti-ship and anti-surface missile capable of matching and outmatching a rapidly expanding range and intensity of current and emerging threats. The requirement is known as SSGW for surface to surface guided weapon.
Speaking to Naval News, Maritime Director of IAI UK, Malcolm McKenzie, underlined that Sea Serpent would be the best antiship missile worldwide thanks to its operationalization technology.
“It (DSEI-2021) is the first time IAI had shown Sea Serpent anywhere in the world. Sea Serpent itself has been an operationalization of technology into a missile system that makes it the best anti-ship and land attack missile system available in the world today.”
Malcolm McKenzie, IAI
The Sea Serpent is specifically developed to meet the demands of the Royal Navy. McKenzie said that there has obviously been a parallel development path with other missile systems in the IAI portfolio such as the Gabriel V selected by the Finnish Navy as well as the Blue Spear being developed with ST Engineering for the Republic of Singapore Navy. But Sea Serpent is specifically designed to meet the threats that the Royal Navy will field both today and most importantly, tomorrow. “I can say it is without doubt and far away the best missile in his class.” he claimed.
Due to confidentiality concerns, McKenzie did not reveal information about the missile’s terminal phase, but he did reveal the general performance specifications of the Sea Serpent, saying, “The Sea Serpent is designed to give a good stand off range. In its flight profile, it can achieve greater than 290 km in a low profile mode. It has an extensive capability against peer plus threats. But I can’t give details about its terminal phase on this unclassified forum. I can say that it is hugely exciting and the Royal Navy will be pleasantly surprised with the capabilities that we are offering.”
IAI has been collaborating with UK partners to reduce the risk of Sea Serpent integration onto the Royal Navy’s Type 23 frigates. “We are confident that the footprint of Sea Serpent is in very many ways similar to that of the current Harpoon system. Therefore there would be minimal requirements to alter the ship installation to allow Sea Serpent to be fitted.” Mackenzie added.
The Director also explained why IAI chose Thales to develop Sea Serpent, saying, “We have chosen Thales as our preferred partner to make sure that the social value elements of our delivery absolutely meet the government requirements, and that we can offer the UK a good return for the investment it will make in the Sea Serpent capability.”
The Royal Navy’s requirements in terms of delivery date is very stringent (reportedly end of 2023) but IAI is confident they can meet this very tight schedule. “Sea Serpent will be delivered on time.” McKenzie said.
About Sea Serpent missile
IAI’s Surface-to-Surface missile, SEA SERPENT, is being offered to the Royal Navy’s SSGW program. It provides an agile, highly penetrative, combined anti-ship and land attack capability at ranges well beyond 200 kilometers.
To provide precise target detection, discrimination, and classification, an innovative RF seeker head and a sophisticated data analysis and weapon control system are used. Overcomes both kinetic counter-fire and increasingly sophisticated electronic countermeasures, allowing the missile to locate and attack its target in littoral, open-ocean, and overland environments.
It is specifically designed to prevail in contested, congested, and confusing situations characterized by a large number of decoys, disrupted reality, and heavy electronic interference, as well as clutter from the land and false returns.
Sea Serpent incorporates mid-course updates from real-time ISTAR feeds and the ability to re-task in flight in fast-moving situations, particularly in cooperative engagements and distributed sensor-and-shooter networks. The missile also provides significant Military Off-the-Shelf (MOTS) advantages in terms of cost, time-to-procurement, entry into operational service, and risk reduction.