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. 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 UK Royal Navy's most capable destroyer ever.
The Diamond is the newest member of the Royal Navy's Daring class of Type 45 air defence 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 7000 tonnes, the 152m long Type 45 dwarfs the Type 42's and their puny 5000 tonnes. In fact, the D-class is the largest escort ship ever commissioned by the UK Royal Navy in terms of displacement. To get all that ship moving, the HMS Diamond relies on a pair of WR-21 advanced cycle modular gas turbine engines and two Wärtsilä 12V200 diesel generators that will allow the huge ship to top 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 Royal Marine contingent of 60, the HMS Diamond is charged with providing air defence for the surrounding fleet — swatting incoming missile threats out of the sky from up to 113km 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 combined thanks to its Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS).
The PAAMS utilises 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 defence as well as support Stingray torpedo-armed Lynx HMA 8 helicopters. 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, screw 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 defence (SSTD) system, the MFS 7000 bow-mounted sonar, which provides automatic warnings, decoy deployment and tactical manoeuvre advice when it detects incoming torpedoes.
Photo: BAE Systems