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Seacat / Tigercat

Short-range antiaircraft weapons are used to destroy airborne targets that penetrate through the zone of long and medium-range aircraft and anti-aircraft missile cover. Short-range antiaircraft missile complexes were found mainly aboard ships of the British Navy for a long period of time, but by the end of the Cold War almost all NATO countries have recognized their important role.

The short range UK Shorts Seacat antiair missile was at one time was the most used naval surface to air missile in the world. The English Sea Cat shipboard antiaircraft missile complex is a widespread system. Over a hundred ships of a number of NATO countries were armed with its modifications. Seacat's success stemmed from its proven accuracy, simplicity, low cost and ability to operate in conjunction with gunnery fire-control systems, making it equally suitable for new ships and those being modernised. It is compatible with a variety of fire-control systems, for both visual tnd "dark" firing.

The standard launcher carries four missiles. Under joint development by Shorts and Marconi was an automatic TV monitoring system that will allow RN Seacats to be fired and guided from below decks. By 1968 twelve navies had chosen this very effective close-range weapon as standard anti-aircraft armament for their ships. The 6600-Ib launcher carries four missiles in the most common surviving version.

In 1963 three new guided missile destroyers "Hampshire", "Kent" and "London" came into service to join the "Devonshire", which is already in service. They were armed with Sea Slug and Sea Cat anti-aircraft missiles. Short Brothers and Harland had been in the forefront with its Sea Cat missile, which, in 1954, earned over 1 million in export orders. But very little assistance has been given to Short Brothers and Harland to develop other missiles

Seacat was replaced by Seawolf on some Leander class frigates, while at least one of the Assault ships, Fearless had Phalanx fitted in its place. The British experience in the Falklands demonstrated that imphibious shipping can survive against air attacks, although not without losses. Most of the merchant ships employed to carry troops and materiel into Falkland Sound mountod only a few machine guns for defense. The two large RN assault ships of the FEARLESS Class did have SEA CAT missiles and 40-millimeter guns, as well as passive ECM, including CHAFF. Seventeen British ships were fitted with the Sea Cat and three with the Sea Wolf short-range missile systems. These weapons destroyed eight and five Argentine aircraft, respectively. More than ten Sea Cat missiles were launched for every kill, but the Saa Wolf was particularly effective, with five kills for only six launches.

On 11 June 1982, a shore based Exocet, missile was fired at HMS Glamorgan as it bombarded Port Stanley at night. HMS Glamorgan attempted to shoot down the incoming missile with a Sea Cat missile, but it failed. The Exocet detonated near the helicopter hangar, killing 13 sailors and injuring 17 sailors.

Most RN ships fitted with Sea Cat were never updated and the weapon was phased out as the ships fitted with it were replaced with the Type 22's and 23's during the 1980's.By 1969 development had been started on a successor to Sea Cat, called Sea Wolf, a close-range, self-defence, surface-to-air, guided-weapon system. The Sea Wolf guided missile cost three and a half times the earlier Sea Cat, but, of course it has a better chance of achieving a kill.

Shorts Tigercat

The Shorts Tigercat is the land-based mobile version of the Sea Cat point-defence missile system. The Tigercat missile was designed by Short Brothers and Harland. Tigercat was a private development of the Shorts Seacat missile. The Tigercat missile is identical with Seacat. Highly successful firing trials by the RAF Regiment began on November 16, 1967.

As ordered for the RAF Regiment and Imperial Iranian Air Force, this weapon system is mounted on two trailers towed by Land-Rovers. One trailer carries the three-round launcher; the other carries the aimer with his optical sight and control gear. The system comes in a quad laucnher mounted on a vehcile or a triple launcher towed by a land rover carrying a radar unit. The system can also be deployed as two trailers. It is based on a 3-round, trailer-mounted launcher towed by a Land Rover, and a second trailer carrying the fire control equipment. The basic system is a radio guided version with an enhanced version using a radar for blind and dark fire capability.

The Tigercat missile is a small, subsonic missile powered by a two-stage solid fuel rocket motor. It is steered in flight by four swept, cruciformly arranged wings and is stabilised by four small tail fins. It is guided by Command Line-Of-Sight (CLOS) via a radio-link; i.e. flight commands are transmitted to it from a remote operator using a joystick, with both the missile and target in sight.

Tehran's first purchase of sophisticated weapons from the United Kingdom was of the Seacat/Tigercat surface-to-air missile (SAM) system in July 1966. Press reports in late 1974 stated that Jordan had indirectly concluded an arms deal with South Africa, including the sale of the Tigercat misile system and 41 Centurion tanks. Where ever the Tigercat came from, South Africa acquired approximately 54 batteries and renamed them Hilda.

The British Tigercat radar guided SAM was quite old by the 1980s, and had always had limited range.



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