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HMS Diamond firing Sea Viper surface to air missile for the first time.

The Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS) is a joint French/Italian/British programme for a naval anti-aircraft weapon. The prime contractor is EUROPAAMS, a joint venture between Eurosam (66%) and MBDA subsidiary UKAMS (33%). MBDA also owns 66% of Eurosam, in effect giving it a 77% share of the project. The Royal Navy now uses the designation Sea Viper for the system.[1]


The PAAMS was intended to be deployed in the Horizon CNGF (Common New Generation Frigate) for the navies of the partner nations.[2] The French DGA placed a contract with EUROPAAMS on 11 August 1999 for the development and initial production of the PAAMS and the associated Long Range Radar (LRR) system, including one PAAMS and one LRR for each of the first British, French and Italian Horizon frigates. Irreconcilable differences in the design requirements led to the UK leaving the Horizon project in October 1999. However, although now pursuing a national warship design (designated the 'Type 45 Destroyer'), the UK remained committed to the PAAMS project.[3] In 2003 the UK ordered five more sets of PAAMS and LRR systems to allow the construction of the six Type 45 Destroyers to progress.

Two additional sets of PAAMS and LRR systems were also ordered by France and Italy in 2003 for their Horizon class frigate.

As a result of efforts to achieve economies of scale, the PAAMS command system shares a common architecture with that of the Type 45 destroyer. Consequently, the PAAMS uses the same Windows 2000 based command consoles as the Type 45. This extends the use of Windows for Warships outside the Royal Navy to the French and Italian navies as well.

On 28 January 2009, the PAAMS was given its official designation of Sea Viper by the Royal Navy.[1]


During its first major warfare sea exercise aboard HMS Daring the ship's Combat Management System crashed while under simulated air attack due to a power failure and the ship lost use of its combat management system; the ship's crew reverted to use of binoculars to spot incoming airborne threats until the CMS had been restarted.[4]

In 2009, two test firings of PAAMS in the British (Sea Viper) configuration from the Longbow trials barge failed due to "failures in the terminal phase of the engagement." It is believed that "production weaknesses" of Aster 30 missiles were to blame.[5]

On 29 September 2010, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless successfully identified, tracked and engaged a target drone with the Sea Viper system while at sea. Previously to that, the longbow barge had also successfully fired a salvo of Aster 30 missiles at another target drone moving at high speed.[6]


The PAAMS is designed to allow equipped vessels to protect themselves and escorted vessels against missile and aircraft threats. The PAAMS will also be capable of operating close inshore to provide air defence for ground forces, e.g. amphibious landings.

The PAAMS will provide a step change in capability over current systems, e.g. the Type 42's Sea Dart system which is vulnerable to low level and saturation attacks. The PAAMS Aster missiles were designed from the outset to intercept sea-skimming missiles. Utilising the SYLVER launcher, the PAAMS can launch 8 missiles in 10 seconds. Unlike the Sea Dart, however, the PAAMS has no anti-ship capability.

PAAMS components

  • PAAMS (S) — British variant with SAMPSON Multi-Function Radar (MFR)
  • PAAMS (E) — French/Italian variant with EMPAR Multi-Function Radar
  • Automatic Command and control system
  • Consoles running Windows 2000 operating system
  • SYLVER vertical missile launcher
  • MBDA Aster missiles
    • Aster 15 - Short range
    • Aster 30 - Medium to long range

Both variants of the PAAMS operate in conjunction with the BAE Systems Insyte/Thales S1850M Long Range/Early Warning Radar.


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Who dares wins - Royal Navy's newest warship arrives at her Portsmouth home". BVT Surface Fleet. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  2. Nicoll, Alexander (1999-04-27). "National differences scupper frigate project". Financial Times. 
  3. "Sampson flexes its muscles". 1999-06-07. 
  4. Channel4 Documentary first broadcast Monday 31 May 2010
  5. Barrie, Douglas (2010-05-07). "MBDA Prepares For Further Sea Viper Testing". 
  6. "Sea Viper fired from Type 45". 1 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 

External links

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