Defence at sea
James, 29, is making waves in his career - after joining our graduate scheme, he’s now a Principal Systems Certification Engineer. He explained why working in a maritime environment on the Sea Ceptor project is a unique opportunity.
The ship-launched missile of the Sea Ceptor system targets air threats, presenting some unusual challenges compared with land-based systems. James said: “The differences involved range from the environment at sea, the launch platform itself and safety implications to the nature of the engagements.
“The missile, especially the sensitive electronic components, needs to be protected from the saline and humid environment at sea. Also, unlike a land platform, the platform will be moving while the missile is launched and the missile design has to take into account the fact that heavy spray and waves could have an impact during a firing. The Sea Ceptor system is soon to be deployed on the UK Navy Type 23 and Type 26 frigates, these launch platforms include powerful radar systems which provide a high radio frequency environment which the missile must operate within.”
There are also deployment challenges to think of too. James continued: “One aspect is ensuring that the missile will safely launch and clear the ship and its equipment - for example, the mast and radar equipment. For maritime deployment there are likely to be different types of targets, of different size, velocity and agility in comparison to a land deployment. If the engagement requires multiple missiles to be fired in a salvo, then there are risks and challenges associated with the launch management. If the target is close to the water it also poses challenges which the system must address. Despite being deployed on a ship (such as the Type 23 and 26 frigates) the Sea Ceptor system will not only be defending the launch platform itself, but possibly a convoy, designated as a defended asset. On land, the launch system will still be high value, however you’re likely not to be defending yourself but possibly an asset such as an airfield or a building. The target scenario is different.
“At sea the deployment time can be much longer compared to land. Furthermore, access can be much easier to the land platform which makes maintenance and re-supply more feasible.”
James’ previous role within MBDA was working on firing trials, testing missiles. He’s now moved on to liaising with customers such as the MOD. “When working on firing trials I’d spend up to a month or two away at a time. If you’re interested in travelling (predominantly within Europe) the opportunities are available within MBDA if you want it. On the other hand, if you want a UK focus on your job then that would be no problem.”
“Working on the trials team gave me a huge understanding of how the system works which helps when interfacing with the customer. Having that understanding is essential.
“I like the challenge of being required to manage multiple tasks at once, the responsibility of working with the customer and also the people I work with. It’s quite exciting knowing you haven’t got a set path that you must follow. It can depend upon what’s happening with the company and what their short term and long term objectives are.”
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