MoD to bolster Navy defences with £483m missile system

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Britain is to spend £483m on a cutting-edge air defence system designed to protect Royal Navy ships by blowing incoming missiles out of the air at more than 2,000mph.

The Ministry of Defence will announce today it has awarded the contract to develop the Sea Ceptor to the British arm of European missile firm MBDA, which employs 500 people at its facilities in Hertfordshire, Gloucestershire and Greater Manchester. The missile system will reach speeds of up to Mach 3 and protect vessels over an area of about 500 square miles over land and sea by targeting and intercepting incoming projectiles.

The missiles will replace the ageing Sea Wolf system due to be taken out of service by the Royal Navy in 2016 and comes as emerging powers, in particular China, begin to exert their naval power by building large naval fleets and offensive missile technology improves.