CAMM: The saviour missile for the British Armed Forces

Everyone on the net for several years now has been talking about the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile or CAMM. It, along with its other support components, is also rather known as the Future Low-Altitude Air Defence System or FLAADS. For the Royal Navy, CAMM will be known as the Sea Ceptor missile (an easier name to remember than the two acronyms!), destined to be fitted on the present Type 23 Frigates and their successor Type 26 frigates (see the official MOD release). CAMM-L, L standing for “Land”, will be the replacement for the ageing or outdated Rapier missile system in the British Army (see the official MOD release).

So what are my views regarding this future missile/missile system? First, the sea version, the Sea Ceptor, is certainly many steps up from the Sea Wolf missile system currently on the Royal Navy’s Type 23s. The first advantage is that of range and altitude. Sea Wolf, a veteran of the Falkland War, has a maximum range of 10 km (the upgraded version) and a flight ceiling/altitude of 3050 m (or around 3000 m). In stark contrast, the MBDA brochure states that CAMM/Sea Ceptor has a range “in excess of 25 km” (let’s just keep it at 25 km). The maximum flight altitude is not stated (so far as I can search, if you know, inform me), but I would gather it should be just a bit shorter than MBDA’s existing Aster 15 missile, which are on the Type 45 Destroyers. (The Aster 15 has a range “in access of 30 km” and flight altitude of 13 km. So I would wager a guess that the Sea Ceptor missile would reach 10 km.)That of course means it might not reach high-altitude bombers/strike aircraft, especially since “Bear” bombers, “Backfire” bombers and others can fly at higher altitudes).

A second crucial advantage for this new missile is it size–99 kg, length of 3.2 m and diameter 0.16m. This means that it can be quad-packed on either the American Mk41 or European SYLVER Vertical Launch System. Now, this link says that from around 2015, the Type 23s will have a “1 for 1 replacement”–32 Sea Wolfs replacement by 32 Sea Ceptors in 8 cell VLS. That’s nice–that means a 8 cell VLS with more room to spare on the frigates.But a stronger advantage for a quad-packed cell means that CAMM can augment the anti-air missiles on board the six Type 45 destroyers. Type 45s currently have 48 ASTER 15 and ASTER missiles in SYLVER A50 0 VLS cells–the actual combination is never known (I would wage 30 ASTER 30s and 18 ASTER 15s, although says otherwise.) The DID website recommends by quad-packing 12 SYLVER A50 cells, you can add 48 Sea Ceptor missiles, and have 36 ASTERS–20 ASTER 30s, and 16 ASTER 15. That would bring a total of 84 SAMs to bear in a single Type 45, making in close enough to say the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyer or Ticonderoga-class cruisers. (No one can say exactly how many SM-2,3,6 missiles those USN ships carry, since thry also fill their VLS cells with ASROC and Tomahawk missiles).

I would go a bit more conservative and allocate only 8 of the 48 SYLVER A50 cells with Sea Ceptor, that is, a total of 32 Sea Ceptor missiles with 40 ASTER missiles of any combination (I would wager 25 ASTER 30s and 15 ASTER 15s, but then again the exact combination is never known. CAMM’s size then will (if the RN does ever quad-pack them on Type 45s) boost the firepowwer on the 6 most advance destroyers and leave the additional space behind the SYLVER A50 cells purely for ASuW missiles and/or land attack missiles. (This again is just a theory; it is up to the policy makers to decide. The additional space could well be more more Sea Viper/Sea Ceptor missiles, though that would leave the Type 45 again with just a gun.)

A third advantage of the CAMM (N)/Sea Ceptor missile/missile system is its secondary ability to “engage small naval craft”. In other terms, it is able to strike Fast Inshore Attack Craft (FIAC) or in even more layman terms, it has a anti-ship missile attack/anti-surface warfare warefare capability. Now, first thing firsts. Even if the range of the Sea Ceptor is in excess of 25 km, I doubt it can strike surface targets that far away. I would wager say a maximum range of around 10 km. What ever the range, this ASuW capability will give the Type 45, 23 and 26s added ASuW capability. This is especially so for two of the Type 45s, as both of them will not gain the 4 quad-Harpoon launchers leftover from the Type 22s. It also means that all Type 45s gain an AAW/ASuW missile that was missing since the Sea Dart missile retired with the Type 42 Destroyers.

I believe that’s a quite a bit on the CAMM-N/Sea Ceptor. But CAMM’s creation is also crucial for the British Army, to replace their age old Rapier FSC missiles. The British Army’s 16th Regiment Royal Artillery is the main/sole operator of the Rapier missile. As this book suggests, 16th RA’s configuration is “four batteries each of two troops with three fire units per troop”. Each fire unit contains eight ready-to-fire missiles. The missile can strike targets at a maximum altitude of around 3,000m and a maximum range of 6,800m.(Also view this link). If we take the Sea Ceptor adverts range of 25 km to be around the same (land launched and ship launched missiles of the smae kind usually reach difference ranges), it will still mean a new missile with a range more than four times than of a Rapier’s. I would assume CAMM-L’s max altitude should be higher than the Rapier’s 6.8 km as well.

This link (and this) shows a mock up of 12 CAMM-L missiles in a launcher vehicle (name unknown). From the above, one Rapier battery will contain at least 48 Rapier missiles in the two troops, not counting reloads. If CAMM-L is 12 missiles per launcher unit, that would mean maybe two fire units per troop instead, create personnel reduction and thus benefits. Beyond this of course, having CAMM-L as a replacement for Rapier would mean much stronger protection of brigades/the Falklands/which every unit against not just aircraft but ballistic missiles and possibly even unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). If all turns out well, CAMM will arrive just as the Rapier bows out in 2020. Definitely one missile need by the British Army for quite a long time especially given the threat of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), airstrikes from manned aircraft and helicopters or even surface-to-surface missiles which as prevalent in “Eastern bloc” armed forces (9K720 Iskander, though I’m not finger pointing).

CAMM is also slated to be CAMM-A/CAMM (A), replacing or complementing the really good ASRAAM. This article will, however, not cover that area. First, there’s little talk about the aerial variant, and secondly, there’s nothing that spectacular since the ASRAAM is (as stated) a pretty good missile. Anyway, the Sea Ceptor variant and the CAMM-L (or whatever name the British Army will give the land variant) provides the British Armed Forces of the future with a missile that should create a potent Future Force (FF) 2020. The missiles characteristics is definitely what the Army and the Navy requires, regardless whether the number of assets (ships and land units) increase or decrease after defence reviews. A saviour for the Armed Forces…

PS I know, abrupt ending. Will edit and expand later.


2 thoughts on “CAMM: The saviour missile for the British Armed Forces

  1. The article is absolutely correct in asserting the huge advance in capabilities represented by the CAMM (L/M) system. It quite possible to equip the T45s with the system; the cost and space requirements, for once, are reasonable. Using the Sylver A35 VLS, which will accommodate the ‘quad-pack’ CAMM(M), is an excellent way of adding capability to the T45(s) in it’s primary task; the secondary capability against fast small attack craft would, likewise, be useful. However, even with this additional, unspecified, capability the RN would still be wise to adopt the Brimstone II ‘Sea Spear’ system proposed for the USN. Most of the work has been done, although it is unclear if this system can use a VLS (might be expensive if not compatible with VLS; if it is compatible there is space for addition Sylver A35 VLS either forward or a midships). If this system was considered too expensive, by their Lordships, there is the modified Starstreak system using [port/starboard] battery launcher(s); considering threat they should employ all three systems (the lost of a GBP1B warship to a rubber-boat might not look good in the newspapers)! The space behind the forward VLS will still be needed for the Harpoon system in the two ‘Inclined, quad-pack, Canister’ launchers; but there is still a lot of space in the forward/midship VLS to deploy both extra air defence missiles (more ASTER15/30/30ABM) and LACM too. It is just a much better way (economical) to launch Tomahawk missiles (still the best choice) than using SSN(s). So, finally the large lump of steel which is a T45 will have a hugely credible weapons fit (64 VLS Forward with a mix of [‘quad-pack’] CAMM(M), ASTER15, ASTER30, ASTER30ABM and Brimstone II; with 16 VLS a midships for Tomahawks, etc). All that would then be needed is to give the T45 some ASW capability and suddenly it is difficult to imagine any more capable fighting ships in service (including USN) worldwide.

    • Thank you for your comment. There will always be two Type 45s in future without the quad-pack Harpoon launchers. But it boils down to budget and expertise and political will to see what the space behind the ASTER VLS cells will contain. As you say, Tomahawk is a great choice but it would mean VLS TLAMs which the RN has never fired before and requires US approval. But if the current trend continues, that means two ships (like Dragon and Defender) with TLAM cells. Or additional CAMM cells, or SPEAR III (both which can be quad-packed).

      But again, boils down to the unknowns and political and financial will. Regarding Brimstone, I think you mean SPEAR III or some unknown future ASuW missile. Worst but cheapest case scenario: 4 x Type 45s with Harpoons, 2 x Type 45s centred on AAW (CAMM replacing some ASTER 15 cells as the DID and my post suggested.)

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