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Navy's £1bn+ destroyers set to remain unarmed for years

Ex-British miracle missiles in new test FAIL

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HMS Daring will probably be on her third captain by the time she's actually armed

Now it seems possible that the miracle destroyers can't actually be built anyway, or certainly not yet by the PAAMS coalition. Ares reports that the final test was "the most stressing of the test firing program". Shooting down multiple supersonic sea-skimmers is the most difficult thing that Sea Viper would ever be tasked to do - so we can take it that it can't in fact do what it says on the tin.

This is embarrassing on many fronts for the MoD. Firstly, the Ministry deliberately chose to continue with PAAMS when the multinational Euro-warship project foundered and Blighty went on alone with the Type 45 - even though an Aegis system in a British hull would have been far cheaper and more capable.

Secondly, the only real reason this was done was in order to preserve British jobs and tech expertise. This too has been a failure as BAE Systems - the UK part of PAAMS - has already fired those workers anyway, before the system is even in service. The weapons are no longer even partly British.

Thirdly, Sea Viper/PAAMS is about the only reason for having a Type 45 destroyer. Space has been included in the ships' design for Tomahawk cruise missiles, but none have been bought and there is no sign that any will be. We already have the ships, but in the absence of Sea Viper they are embarrassing, expensive white elephants.

HMS Daring, first of the Type 45s, will have been in Navy hands for a year in eight days' time. She is armed with nothing but a 4.5-inch "Kryten" gun turret and a pair of light 30mm cannon, suitable for shooting up pirate dhows and the like. This is an utterly pathetic amount of punch for a £1.1bn (at the latest estimate) warship with a crew of 200. Her first captain has already been and gone; the second, it now seems certain, will also depart before the ship is capable of achieving anything even vaguely in proportion to her cost or even vaguely worth his time commanding her. It won't be at all surprising if the same thing happens with the second Type 45, Dauntless, which has just arrived in Portsmouth ahead of handover to the Navy tomorrow.

The whole saga is made even more depressing by the fact that it is very largely the vast expense of the Type 45s which has led to the swingeing cuts to the rest of the British fleet seen in recent years, and which is imperilling the future of the new carriers which would be so much more useful.

We've asked the MoD for more details on the test failure, but as of publication hadn't heard back. We'll update this as soon as we hear. ®

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