During World War II, great attention was paid to the technical improvement of the air defense system in Great Britain. In particular, for anti-aircraft guns with a caliber of 94 mm and above, it was possible to create devices for an automated installation of a remote fuse and synchronous guidance of anti-aircraft battery guns according to data from anti-aircraft fire control equipment.
In addition, in 1944, the troops began to receive large-caliber anti-aircraft shells with a radio fuse, which had an increased likelihood of hitting an air target.
In addition to anti-aircraft shells, unguided 76-mm anti-aircraft missiles were also equipped with radio fuses. When firing in the daytime at targets flying at high altitudes, rockets with a photoelectric fuse were used.
However, after the end of the war, interest in air defense systems faded somewhat. Even the appearance in the USSR at the end of the 40s of nuclear weapons and the first carriers - Tu-4 bombers, did not lead to a particular revival of work in this area.
The British relied on jet fighter-interceptors, which, according to the commands of ground-based radars, were aimed at enemy bombers, meeting them at distant lines. In addition, Soviet piston bombers flying at high altitude during a breakthrough to the British Isles would have to overcome the air defense line in Western Europe with American air defense systems and interceptors deployed there.
The first projects on British guided anti-aircraft missiles, which led to a practical result, were implemented in the interests of the Navy. The British sailors quite reasonably believed that their warships were much more likely to collide with Soviet combat aircraft.
Nevertheless, work on the creation of naval air defense systems was not very active. An additional impetus to them was the adoption in the USSR of jet bombers-torpedo bombers Il-28 and Tu-14, long-range jet bombers Tu-16 and anti-ship missiles.
The development of the first British sea-based air defense system "Sea Slug" (English Sea Slug - sea snail), which began in 1949 by Armstrong Whitworth, was completed only in 1961. The carriers of the complex were destroyers of the "County" type. The first URO destroyer Devonshire armed with the Sea Slag air defense system entered service in 1962.
HMS Devonshire (D02)
The "Sea Slag" air defense missile launcher with two guides was located in the stern of the ship. She had a lattice frame and was designed for long-term presence of missiles on the launcher.
A cellar for missiles, protected by explosion-proof doors, was located in the central part of the destroyer's hull. The missiles were fed to the launcher through a special tunnel. Recharging was long and troublesome.
The Sea Slag anti-aircraft missile had a rather unusual layout - a cylindrical body with rectangular cruciform wings and a rectangular cruciform tail tail. Around the cylindrical body of the missile defense system with a diameter of 420 mm, in its front part, massive solid-propellant boosters with a diameter of 281 mm were fixed. The accelerator nozzles were located at an angle of 45 degrees from the longitudinal axis of the anti-aircraft missile so that the impact of the jet stream would not damage it.
This scheme made it possible to abandon the aerodynamic stabilizers at the launch site of the flight. The accelerators actually operated in a "pull mode", additional stability was created by the rocket's rotation around the axis.
An anti-aircraft missile with this layout was very clumsy and took up a lot of space. Nevertheless, despite the very ridiculous appearance of the Sea Slag missile, British sailors rated this complex quite highly. It was believed that, in addition to hitting air targets, it could be used against enemy ships and targets on the coast.
The first version of the Sea Slag Mk.1 SAM had a launch range of 27 km, with an altitude reach of about 16 km. The mass of the missiles prepared for launch was about 2000 kg.
In the modified version of the Sea Slug Mk.2, which appeared in 1965, due to the use of more efficient fuel in the solid-propellant propulsion engine and accelerators, the range of destruction of air targets increased to 32 km, and the altitude to 19 km. At the same time, the flight speed of the missile defense system increased by about 30%.
Guidance of the "Si Slug" missile defense system at the target was carried out by a narrowly directed rotating beam generated by the tracking and guidance radar. In this case, the beam was directed to the target, and the rocket flew along the line around which the beam revolved. If the rocket left the axis of rotation of the radar beam, then its guidance equipment generated the appropriate command for the steering machines and the rocket returned to the center of the radar beam.
The advantages of such a guidance scheme are the relative simplicity of execution and good noise immunity. At the same time, due to the expansion of the beam with distance from the radar, the firing accuracy was significantly reduced. Due to the numerous reflections of the beam from the water surface, the probability of hitting low-altitude targets was small.
Initially, the Sea Slag SAM carried a high-explosive fragmentation warhead weighing about 90 kg. A rod warhead was developed for the Mk.2 model.
In addition to the destruction of air targets, at the end of the 60s for the Sea Slag air defense system, a mode of firing at coastal targets and surface targets was worked out. For this, the modified Sea Slug Mk.2 missiles, in addition to a proximity radio or an optical fuse, were equipped with a shock fuse.
SAM "Sea Slag" is not widely used. The complex was carried by only eight County-class destroyers. This was due to the fact that this complex could be quite effective only against subsonic air targets at high and medium altitudes.
The Sea Slag complex served in the British Navy until the mid-1980s. On one of the three destroyers sold by Chile, he survived until 2001. Later, the Chilean destroyers were rearmed with the Israeli air defense missile system "Barak".
Participation in the hostilities of this air defense system was limited. Only once, during the Falklands Conflict, the Sea Slug Mk.2 SAM was launched at a real target - an Argentinean combat aircraft flying at low level. Quite predictably, the missile passed by, since this complex was never intended to deal with low-altitude targets.
Several missiles were used against coastal targets in the Port Stanley airfield area. According to the British, one missile with a direct hit destroyed the Argentine air monitoring radar.
Almost simultaneously with the Sea Slag medium-range air defense system, the Sea Cat (Sea Cat) short-range self-defense system entered service with the British Navy. It was developed by Shorts Brothers.
This complex was primarily intended to replace small-caliber anti-aircraft guns on the decks of British warships. But completely, for a number of reasons, he could not completely oust them.
SAM "Sea Cat" turned out to be quite simple and inexpensive, moreover, compared to the "Sea Slag", it took up little space on the ship and could fight low-flying targets.
Shipborne SAM GWS-22 "Sea Cat"
During the creation of this shipborne anti-aircraft complex, technical solutions were used, implemented in the Australian ATGM "Malkara". SAM "Sea Cat" is considered the world's first maritime complex of the near zone. Its trials were completed on the British destroyer Decoy in 1962.
HMS Decoy (D106)
Sufficiently compact SAM "Sea Cat" length of only 1480 mm and a diameter of 190 mm weighed 68 kg, which made it possible to manually load the launcher. The weight of the high-explosive fragmentation warhead was about 15 kg. An infrared receiver was used as an actuating sensor for a proximity fuse on the first versions of the missile defense system.
This rocket used inexpensive and non-scarce materials. The single-stage Sea Cat missile is built according to a rotary wing design. The solid-propellant jet engine of the SAM has starting and cruising modes of operation. On the active part of the trajectory, the rocket accelerated to a speed of 0.95-1M. In the latter versions, the firing range reached 6.5 km. The recharge time of the complex is 3 minutes.
SAM "Sea Cat" has a radio command guidance system. The operator, having detected the target visually with the help of his binocular sight, after launching the missile at it manually with the joystick. Control commands were transmitted to the rocket via a radio channel. For visual support, a tracer is installed in the tail section of the missile defense system.
On later modifications of the Sea Cat air defense system, the guidance post was equipped with a variable focal length television device that provided automatic tracking of the anti-aircraft missile tracer throughout the entire trajectory. This significantly increased the accuracy of targeting and the likelihood of hitting the target, but at the same time made this modification of the air defense system more expensive and complex.
The launcher of most modifications of the Sea Cat air defense system had four guides for the SAM. Reloading took place after bringing the launcher to a vertical position, the same position is marching.
The weight of the first variants of the Sea Cat complex was within 5000 kg. For the armament of small displacement ships and boats, an anti-aircraft missile system with three guides weighing no more than 1500 kg was developed.
Several variants of the complex are known, which significantly differed from each other in size, electronics and operational characteristics: GWS-20, GWS-21, GWS-22 and GWS-24.
After the transition from electric vacuum devices to a semiconductor element base, it was possible to significantly reduce the time for the complex to enter a combat position, and to increase reliability and maintainability.
The baptism of fire "Sea Cat" took place in the same 1982, during the Falklands War. At that time, the Sea Cat air defense system was often the only relatively effective anti-aircraft weapon on many British ships built in the late 50s and mid-60s. Despite the small firing range and low flight speed of the missile defense system and accuracy, the large number of the complex and the relative cheapness of the missiles played a role in protecting British ships from airstrikes. There were cases when Argentine combat aircraft stopped the attack, and turned aside, noticing the launch of an anti-aircraft missile, that is, the "deterrent effect" was triggered. However, "Sea Cat" was absolutely powerless in front of the ASC "Exocet".
In total, more than 80 Sea Cat missiles were fired at Argentine combat aircraft. According to the British themselves, these missiles shot down only one A-4S Skyhawk. It happened on May 25, the rocket was launched from the Yarmouth frigate.
In addition to the Sea Cat naval air defense system, there was its land version of the Tigercat and the Hellcat helicopter armament system, but these systems were not so widespread.
The Sea Cat naval air defense system, in addition to Great Britain, was in service with the navies of 15 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Venezuela, India, Iran, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Thailand, Germany, Chile and Sweden. Currently, the Sea Cat has been removed from service almost everywhere.