The high-tech weapons platform made its debut in operations in the Pacific with the HMS Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier Strike Group.
The Wildcat helicopter of the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Defender of the 815 Naval Air Squadron fired the Martlet light missile at an inflatable target at sea – known in the Navy as the “Big Red Tomato”.
This is the first time this type of missile has been launched into frontline operations by the Senior Service after rigorous testing at distances off the British coast last year.
Within 0.3 seconds, the missile detached from the Wildcat HMA Mk2 helicopter, accelerating to 1.5 times the speed of sound towards its target.
The purpose of the missile system is to add another layer of protection around Royal Navy aircraft carriers, as the Wildcats can carry up to 20 laser sensor missiles that can be used against fixed and moving targets.
Captain James Blackmore, Carrier Strike Group Air Wing Commander, said: “Martlet is a new light air-to-surface multirole missile recently put into service for the Wildcat helicopter and provides offensive and defensive capability against small boats and maritime targets that may pose a threat to the carrier strike group.
“The Wildcat is an incredibly versatile aircraft and the inclusion of up to 20 missiles on each of the four carrier planes adds yet another powerful capability to the air wing and carrier strike group.”
A message from the editor, Mark Waldron