UK: HMS Diamond Tests Her Mettle Against Fastest Jet Fighters in the World

HMS Diamond Tests Her Mettle Against Fastest Jet Fighters in The World

New destroyer HMS Diamond tested her mettle against two of the fastest jet fighters in the world when she played cat and mouse with US Air Force F15 Strike Eagles. The Type 45 warship came under mock attack from the American jets during a mine warfare exercise in the Gulf, when Diamond was called upon to escort a force of four minehunters and their mother ship.

This is one of two US Air Force F15 Strike Eagles sent to ‘attack’ the new destroyer – just one test for the £1bn Portsmouth-based warship as she escorted minehunters during training in the Middle East.

Although IMCMEX12 – International Mine Countermeasures Exercise – focused on the ability of some 30 nations’ navies to deal with the threat of mines blocking key sea lanes, dealing with underwater ordnance wasn’t the only test the various ships faced.

Diamond was called upon to shepherd five ships – Britain’s HMS Shoreham and RFA Cardigan Bay, acting as a mother ship for minehunters and patrol boats, and the USA’s trio of mine warfare vessels Devastator, Dexterous and Sentry.

As one of the world’s most potent air defence ships, Diamond used her sophisticated radar suite to find, track and finally target the incoming Eagles, simulating launching her Sea Viper missiles to intercept the inbound jets before they could harm the mine force.

At high altitude, the F15s can reach speeds of around Mach 2.5. Even at low altitude, where the air is denser – and therefore more resistance – it can barrel along faster than the speed of sound.

Thanks to her long range and Sampson radars (the latter is the distinctive ‘spinning egg’ atop the main mast) and the state-of-the-art command system, Diamond can track scores of contacts up to 250 miles away – which gives the ship’s company under ten minutes to deal with an F15 at top speed.

Were it for real, such an attack should be relatively straight forward; according to the specifications of Sea Viper, it should be able to knock a target the size of a tennis ball out of the sky, even if it’s moving at three times the speed of sound.

As proven on test firings off the Scottish west coast, Sea Viper races towards its target at speeds in excess of Mach Four (over 3,000mph) using a series of tiny jets to manoeuvre, carrying out sharp turns at G forces no human could endure.

Thankfully for the four US aircrew, the missiles remained safely in their silo on Diamond’s expansive forecastle…

Watching the awesome sight of the F15s at full pelt simulating an attack on the Type 45 destroyer were visitors from the Royal Omani Navy during a recent international exercise in the Middle East, who joined Diamond for two days to observe the exercise.

The Omani officers had all previously received naval training at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth; two of the Sub-Lieutenants had only passed out from the college in April 2012.  All were currently serving aboard Royal Omani Naval warships and eager to see for themselves the equipment and practice of their Royal Naval counterparts onboard one of the latest Type 45 destroyers.

“It’s an honour to sail with HMS Diamond and learn from one of the most professional navies in the world. The hospitality and warm welcome we received from the Commanding Officer, Commander Ian Clarke, and his ship’s company is highly appreciated,” said Cdr Ali Bin Musa Bin Suleman Al Baluchi on leaving the British destroyer.

“I wish you all fair winds and following seas.”

Diamond’s now into the second half of her maiden deployment which, like her older sister HMS Daring, is focused on protecting merchant traffic and promoting the UK’s interests in the Gulf region.

Naval Today Staff,October 04, 2012; Image: Royal Navy