Britain's Brand New £1 Billion Battleship Is a 152-Metre Mobile Missile Shield

By Andrew Tarantola on at

With all the iPhone 5 hoopla lately, you might not have heard the news—Israel and Iran are fixing for a fight that could wipe both countries off the map. Twenty-six Western allies have already dispatched a flotilla of warships to the region to guard the Straight of Hormuz—among them is the brand new HMS Diamond. This floating missile shield is the Royal Navy's most capable destroyer ever.

The Diamond is the newest member of the Royal Navy's Daring class of Type 45 air defense destroyers. The Type 45 has been commissioned to replace the navy's older Type 42's, scheduled to retire at the end of 2013, after being in service since the 1970s. All six ships in the new D-class are built by BAE systems. The HMS Diamond, the most recent, began service at the end of 2011. The ships are based in Portsmouth and are expected to remain in service until 2040.

Displacing 7,800 tons, the 152 metre-long Type 45 dwarfs the Type 42's puny 5,200 tonnes. In fact, in terms of displacement, the D-class is the largest escort ship ever commissioned by the Royal Navy. To get all that boat moving, the HMS Diamond relies on a pair of WR-21 advanced cycle modular gas turbine engines and two Wärtsilä 12V200 diesel generators. These allow the huge ship to reach 30 knots at full speed, or about 17 knots under all-electric propulsion. Conversely, the turbines are also outfitted with intercooler and recuperator (ICR) heat exchangers to help reduce the amount of fuel that each 25MW engine consumes.

Staffed by a crew of 190, plus a 60-Royal Marine contingent, the HMS Diamond is charged with providing air defence for the surrounding fleet—swatting incoming missile threats out of the sky from up to 70 miles away using Sea Viper interceptors and its long-range, wide-area sensor suite. Even under the "massive volume of missiles" that Iranian General Mohammad Ali Jafari is threatening, the Daring class is capable of simultaneously tracking and engaging more incoming threats than five of its predecessors could have, even when working in concert, thanks to its Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS).

The PAAMS utilizes 48 Aster 30 anti-aircraft missiles as well as another 48 of its big brother, the Aster 15. These interceptors are incredibly agile, capable of sustaining 50- and 62-g turns, respectively, and can be launched in large numbers to knock down incoming missile salvos. The HMS Diamond can be equipped with the Raytheon Phalanx system for short range defense, and it can support Lynx HMA 8 helicopters armed with Stingray torpedoes. And in the event that something on shore needs to be blown to smithereens, the Diamond is outfitted with a 114mm cannon (that's 4.5 inches of "no, fuck you") as well as a pair of 30mm guns, a pair of miniguns and another half dozen general purpose machine guns.

But before the HMS Diamond can destroy incoming threats, it first needs to see them. That's why the destroyer relies on the BAE Systems Insyte long-range D-band radar, and Raytheon's IFF system, to differentiate friend from foe. The Type 45 can defend against subsurface threats as well. The class has been outfitted with a surface ship torpedo defense (SSTD) system, the MFS 7000 bow-mounted sonar, which provides automatic warnings, decoy deployment, and tactical maneuver advice when it detects incoming torpedoes.

[Naval Technology - Wikipedia - UK Royal Navy - Navy Photos - Telegraph - Photo: BAE Systems]