The classic 40mm Bofors cannon was clearly obsolete versus high speed jet aircraft by the 1950s. The Royal Navy could ill afford to equip most of its fleet with expensive, and large, guided missile systems such as the Sea Slug missile system. So Shorts Brothers developed the lightweight, relatively inexpensive SeaCat missile system in the early 1960s.

A small, lightweight, subsonic missile using Command to Line of Sight Guidance, SeaCat could be mounted on just about any warship, and was for many Royal Navy ships the only air defense aboard. The gunner used a set of binoculars on a pedestal mount to track the target, and the guidance system relayed steering commands via a radio link.  Theoretically, as long as the gunner kept the target within the crosshairs, the missile would guide to the target.

It was also widely exported to the usual British client states.

In reality, the system, while very reliable, was not terrible capable. During the Falklands war in 1982, out of over 80 SeaCat firings, only one Argentine Skyhawk was brought down. Interestingly, the Argentinians also used SeaCat and its land based variant, Tigercat, though they scored no kills.


2 thoughts on “SeaCat”

  1. Very similar to our Sparrow Basic Point Defense Missile System (BPDMS). It was awful, and as much a hazard to the neighboring ships as the foe. Fortunately, we moved on to the full-on NATO Sea Sparrow Missile system with its evolutionary heir, the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile system (ESSM)– A VERY capable system. The handy quad-pack fits in the VLS system and adds that one more layer of capability between the Standard missile’s minimum range and guns. ‘Cause if you’re going to guns for air defense at sea, well. . . $hit.

  2. . . . and it goes without saying, (but I will anyway): This is the system they should have put in LCS from the very beginning! If it had been, the LCS might be at least as capable as the Canadian City-Class frigates in AAW/SUW.

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