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Sea Killer / Marte
Type anti-ship
Place of origin Flag of Italy.svg Italy
Service history
Used by Flag of Italy.svg Italy
Flag of Iran.svg Iran
Flag of Venezuela.svg Venezuela
Production history
Manufacturer MBDA/Sistel SpA
Weight 300 kg (660 lb)[1]
Length 4.7 m (15 ft 5 in)[1]
Diameter 0.206 m (8.1 in) (body)[1]

Warhead 70 kg (150 lb) Semi-Armoured Piercing HE
Impact and proximity fuze

Engine solid fuel rocket booster and sustainer
Wingspan 0.999 m (3 ft 3.3 in)[1]
25 km (16 mi)[1]
Flight altitude sea skimming
Speed transonic
Beam riding / command guided
naval ships, aircraft

Sea Killer is an Italian anti-ship missile. It has been built in several versions, with differing guidance systems, and suitable for launching from ships or aircraft (in which form the weapons system is known as Marte).

Development and designEdit

Contraves Italiana, an Italian subsidiary of the Swiss armaments company Oerlikon Contraves began development of a short-ranged (10 kilometres (6.2 mi)) ship-based anti-ship missile system, named Nettuno in 1963. Guidance of Nettuno was by beam riding for course control, with altitude controlled automatically by an onboard radar altimeter, allowing the missile to carry out sea-skimming attacks. Command guidance was an alternative guidance method if jamming made the beam-riding method unusable. Contraves Italiana began work on an improved missile, Vulcano in 1965, this having the same guidance system, but with a two-stage (booster + sustainer) rocket motor to give a longer (25 kilometres (16 mi)) range. Both missiles could be fired from a five-round trainable launcher.[2][3]

Testing of Nettuno began in 1966,[4] with a trial installation being made on the Freccia class patrol boat Saetta of the Italian navy, with the five-round launcher replacing a Bofors 40 mm gun.[5] Testing of Vulcano began in 1969.[1]

In 1967, the Italian company Sistel (Sistemi Elttronici) was set up as a joint venture by five Italian companies, including Contraves Italiana, and the missile division of Contraves Italina was transferred to Sistel, along with the Nettuno and Vulcano missiles in 1969.[6] Nettuno and Vulcano were renamed Sea Killer Mark 1 and 2 respectively for export, and these names gradually replaced the older names.[7]

IS Sabalan (F-73) 1977

The Iranian Frigate Sabalan showing the five round launcher for Sea Killer missiles

Sea Killer Mark 2 was purchased by Iran to arm its Saam class of four frigates, each of which was fitted with a single 5-round launcher.[8] No other sales of the ship-based version were made,[9] but development of Sea Killer Mark 2 into an all-weather anti-ship missile to equip the Italian Navy's helicopters began in 1967,[10] with the helicopter based weapon system being named Marte.[11]

Marte entered service with the Italian Navy in 1977, with its SH-3 Sea Kings being fitted with two Sea Killer Mark 2 missiles.[12] In 1983, a new version, Marte 2, was announced, with the beam-riding guidance replaced by an active radar homing seeker based on that used by the Otomat anti-ship missile.[12][13] Testing of Marte 2 started in 1984,[14] with the missile entering service with the Italian Navy in 1987.[12]

Operational historyEdit

Iran's Sea Killer Mk 2 saw combat service during the Iran-Iraq War, being used to attack merchant shipping in the Persian Gulf, with at least six ships being hit.[9][12]


Sea Killer Mark 1
Short-range beam riding ship-launched anti-ship missile. 10 km range, 35 kilograms (77 lb) warhead. (Also designated Nettuno).[2][4]
Sea Killer Mark 2
Increased range beam-riding ship-launched anti-ship missile with improved two stage rocket. 25+ km range, 70 kilograms (150 lb) warhead. Also designated Vulcano.[1][2]
Marte 1
Helicopter launched beam riding anti-ship missile, based on Sea Killer Mark 2.[12]
Marte 2
Improved version of Marte, with active radar homing seeker in bulged nose.[12]
Marte 2A
Modified version of Marte 2 for launch from fixed wing aircraft, with booster rocket omitted.[12]
Turbojet engine extends range to over 100 kilometres (54 nmi) from helicopters.[15]
Proposed Marte-ER for fixed-wing aircraft with a larger warhead in place of the rocket booster.[15] Has had carriage trials on the Eurofighter Typhoon and was offered to India as part of the Typhoon package.[15] The UAE have also expressed an interest.


Flag of Iran.svg Iran
  • Sea Killer Mk 2.[12]
Flag of Italy.svg Italy
  • Sea Killer Mk 1 (evaluation).[7]
  • Marte 1 and Marte 2.[12]
Flag of Venezuela.svg Venezuela

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Pretty 1977, p. 62.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Pretty and Archer 1972, pp. 42–43.
  3. Pretty 1977, pp. 61–62.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pretty 1977, p. 61.
  5. Moore 1979, p. 279.
  6. Flight International 25 January 1973, p. 135.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Pretty and Archer 1972, p. 42.
  8. Moore 1979, p. 155.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Sea Killer/Marte (Italy), Surface-to-surface missiles". 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  10. Gunston 1983, p. 110–111.
  11. Pretty 1977, pp. 141–142.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 12.8 12.9 Freidman 1997, p. 231.
  13. Flight International 1 October 1988.
  14. "Marte 2 hits target". Flight International 7 April 1984, p. 942.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Wall, Robert (14 November 2011). "Marte-ER Integration On Typhoons Eyed For India". 

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