Sea Wolf

Quick Facts

Variants Sea Wolf Vertical Launch (GWS-26)
Role and Mobility Short-Range Surface-to-Air Defense and Point Defense; Ship-Mobile
Interceptors and Range


Range: 6.5 km

Speed: Mach 2


Range: 10 km

Speed: Mach 3


Parent Ship’s Surveillance Radar



-Type 22 Frigate: Type 967 (D-Band) 968 (E-Band) Combination

-Type 23 Frigate: Type 996 3D



-Type 910 (I-Band)

-Type 911 (K-Band)

Targets Sea-Skimming and High-Angle Anti-Ship Missiles and Aircraft
Status/Exports Operational; United Kingdom, Brazil, Malaysia, and Chile
Designer/Producer MBDA Missile Systems


The Sea Wolf was designed and produced in the 1960s and 70s as a replacement of the original point defense missile, the Sea Cat.[i] The Sea Wolf is a short-range surface-to-air missile deployed on the United Kingdom’s Type 22 and Type 23 frigates as a defense against enemy aircraft and anti-ship missiles. During its development, the GWS-25 was tested with a vertical launch system, but the final design used a six-round trainable launcher. There were several variants of the Sea Wolf designed, although not all went into production:

Sea Wolf GWS-25: The original Sea Wolf missile.

Sea Wolf GWS-26 (Sea Wolf VL): A vertical launch variant of the GWS-25, included a booster and rocket motor to increase its operational range.[ii]

Strategic Implications

The Sea Wolf provided the United Kingdom with a newer, and more capable, missile defense system for its ships. Replacing the Sea Cat, the Sea Wolf was designed with the inherent capability to intercept supersonic targets and can target and track enemy missiles automatically via the ship. The automated Sea Wolf helps the ship react faster and more accurately than a human operated system. The GWS-26 variant increased the range at which enemy aircraft and missiles could be intercepted, strengthening the last line of defense.


1990: GWS-26 made operational[iii]

1987: GWS-27 canceled[iv]

1980s: Sea Wolf GWS-26 is developed, using vertical launch system

1979: Sea Wolf enters production

 1976: Testing with vertical launch system begins but is eventually stopped

1970: Testing Begins

1967: Designed

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