The British navy is carrying out an assessment aimed at determining whether its Type 45 destroyers have the capability to support theater-level ballistic-missile defense missions, Defense News reported on Wednesday.
A Type 45 guided-missile destroyer is currently in the Pacific Ocean for a nine-month deployment that will include technology and science tests, according to the Royal Navy. The work is a component of a U.S. Missile Defense Agency research and development test.
Speaking at a defense exhibition on Tuesday, Royal Navy head George Zambellas said that the destroyer Daring "is on trials in the Pacific to explore the ballistic-missile defense capabilities that are ready to be exploited, bring strategic opportunities to the vessel."
The U.K. Missile Defense Center in the spring said it was cooperating with the Pentagon agency to "explore the potential of the Royal Navy's destroyers to conduct [theater ballistic-missile defense] missions." The center said the Type 45 warship's onboard Sampson radar would be utilized to detect and track dummy missiles launched in MDA trials.
There is currently no plan in place to give the Type 45 destroyers a TBMD role. However, the testing taking place could be used to inform such a change in the event London decides to go down that path.