The Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS) is a joint programme developed by France, Italy and the United Kingdom for an integrated anti-aircraft warfare system. The prime contractor is EUROPAAMS, a joint venture between Eurosam (66%) and MBDA subsidiary UKAMS (33%). In the United Kingdom PAAMS has been given the designation Sea Viper.
PAAMS was originally intended to be deployed in the 'Common New Generation Frigate' (also known as the Horizon-class frigate) for the navies of the United Kingdom, France and Italy. The French DGA placed a contract with EUROPAAMS on 11 August 1999 for the development and initial production of the PAAMS warfare system along with the associated Long Range Radar (LRR) system. The contract included one PAAMS system and one LRR for each of the first British, French and Italian new class of warships. Irreconcilable differences in the design requirements led to the United Kingdom leaving the 'Common New Generation Frigate' project in October 1999. After withdrawing, Britain instead decided to pursue a national warship design, designated the Type 45 destroyer. The United Kingdom remained committed to the PAAMS project. As a result of efforts to achieve economies of scale, the PAAMS command and control system shares common architecture between the Horizon class and Type 45 destroyers. In 2009 PAAMS(S) was given the service name Sea Viper by the Royal Navy.
- 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 Launching System
- MBDA Aster missiles:
- Aster 15, range; 1.7–30 km (1.1–18.6 mi)
- Aster 30, range; 3–120 km (1.9–74.6 mi)
Both variants of the PAAMS operate in conjunction with the S1850M Long Range Early Warning Radar.
PAAMS is designed to track, target and destroy a variety of high performance air threats, including saturation attacks of very low altitude, supersonic cruise missiles, fighter aircraft and UAVs. PAAMS can launch eight missiles in under ten seconds with its Sylver Vertical Launching System, and simultaneously guide up to 16 missiles at once. The PAAMS(S) variant consists of both the SAMPSON and S1850M long range radars and is capable of tracking in excess of 1,000 targets at ranges of up-to 400 km. BAE Systems also claims that its SAMPSON radar has "excellent detection of stealth aircraft and missiles". Nick Brown the editor-in-chief of Jane's International Defence Review was quoted as saying the Type 45 is "certainly one of the most advanced air defence ships in the world. The US Aegis system is similar, but Sea Viper is more advanced as it can engage multiple targets simultaneously."
- 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.
- In 2009, two test firings of PAAMS in the British configuration from the Longbow trials barge failed due to "failures in the terminal phase of the engagement." It was believed that "production weaknesses" in a batch of Aster 30 missiles imported from France were to blame.
- Beginning with HMS Dauntless in September 2010, all of the Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyers have successfully intercepted Mirach drones with Aster missiles at the Benbecula ranges off the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Mirach is a 13 ft (4.0 m) jet which flies at speeds of up to 600 mph (970 km/h) at altitudes as low as 10 ft (3.0 m) or as high as 14,000 ft (4.3 km).
- In April 2012, the Horizon-class frigate Forbin, of the French Navy, downed an American GQM-163 Coyote target simulating a sea-skimming supersonic anti-ship cruise missile traveling at Mach 2.5 (3,000 km/h, 1,900 mph) with an altitude of less than 5 metres (16 ft). It was the first time a European missile defence system destroyed a supersonic sea-skimming "missile". The trial was described as a "complex operational scenario".
- In 2013, HMS Daring of the Royal Navy, demonstrated the ability of her Sea Viper system to detect and track at considerable range two medium range ballistic missiles at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, in the Marshall Islands, US.
- In May 2019, HMS Defender successfully used her Sea Viper system to destroy an incoming drone target as part of Exercise Formidable Shield.
- In May 2019, the French frigate Bretagne destroyed a supersonic missile going to more than Mach 2 (2,400 km/h, 1,500 mph) with one of her Aster 15s during exercise Formidable Shield.
- Italian Navy
- Horizon-class frigates - two ships
- FREMM multipurpose frigates - ten ships
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