The Seawolf air defense missile was originally tested and fielded in the 1970s, and saw action in the 1982 Falklands War. It performed well in that conflict in a short range defense role, and was credited with several kills. Upgraded versions corrected many of the remaining issues with the system, and these still equip the Type 22 and Type 23 Class frigates in service with Britain, Chile and Brazil, and slated for Romania. It is also fitted to Malaysia’s newer Lekiu Class frigates. The Seawolf Mid-Life Update/ VL Seawolf Block 2 missile system was recently installed on the Duke Class frigate HMS Sutherland, and it will equip other ships of class as they, too, are upgraded.
Britain is slowly turning many of its defense support contracts into through-life “contracts for availability” that feature long term fixed costs and performance guarantee. Now Seawolf missiles have joined the list. In July 2008, BAE Systems announced the GBP 141 million SWISS (Seawolf In Service Support) Contract for Availability (CfA), which will sustain all of Britain’s Seawolf missiles in conjunction with a complementary contract to missile manufacturer MBDA. The contracts will last until the end of 2017, at which point the Seawolf system is expected to be phased out in favor of some of the systems being developed by Britain’s government-anointed “complex weapons team.”
BAE Systems has been providing in service support for the Seawolf radars and command and control systems since 1979. With the new contract, they are charged with ensuring that availability, as measured by successful firings, is maintained. They will also be responsible for refit activities in cooperation with MBDA, which can be used to insert new technologies that improve performance and/or reliability. BAE release.