The Type 45 Class has some of the most modest armaments of any modern destroyers with just 48 vertical launch cells each.
By contrast, modern AEGIS ships in South Korea, Japan and the U.S. deploy 96 missiles or more each, while China’s new Type 055 destroyers deploy 112.
The upgrade to the Type 45 will see the number of vertical launch cells deployed by each ship increased to 72, which will still leave them considerably behind any modern non-European destroyer class.
The shortfall in firepower is particularly serious considering that launch cells on British ships can only deploy two missile types – the Aster 15 and Aster 30 – both of which can only be used in anti-air roles.
This contrasts sharply to the vertical launch velds on AEGIS ships, on modern Chinese destroyers, and even on the latest Russian frigates and corvettes, which can deploy a wide range of missiles for air defence, anti submarine warfare, anti shipping, land attack and in the case of U.S. and Japanese ships ballistic missile defence as well.
The 24 new launch cells will be allocated to carrying Aster 15 short-range surface to air missiles, with the remaining 48 dedicated to deploying the longer-ranged Aster 30 which is also designed exclusively for air defence.
The range, speed and overall performance of these missiles, however, is far inferior to air defences deployed by rival destroyers such as the SM-3 and SM-6 used by U.S. and allied AEGIS destroyers or the HHQ-9 and HHQ-16 used by Chinese ships.
The Type 45’s lack of versatility and its inability to operate in roles other than air defence represents a major shortcoming.
The British destroyer class has also faced considerable performance issues including very high maintenance requirements and in previous years a tendency to break down and suffer engine failure when operating in warm waters.
The announcement of plans to upgrade the Type 45 follows an alleged violation of Russian territorial waters by one of the six ships in the Black Sea, which led Russia to deploy fighters to warn it away and resulted in Moscow issuing a strong warning.
Source: Military Watch