The Petrel is a solid propellant ballistic rocket, and is currently in service with the Royal Navy as a high speed target. Originally conceived in 1967 by Bristol Aerojet in conjunction with the Science Research Council as a low-cost sounding rocket, it is now produced and operated by Meggitt Defence Systems Ltd. Following its first launch as a target in 1979, over 600 successful launches have been carried out.
It is launched from a tube by small high thrust booster motors, which separate after a quarter of a second. The rocket then accelerates for 30 seconds during main motor burn, followed by ballistic trajectory to impact.
The payload bay allows various radar enhancement devices to be fitted to suit the weapon system under test. Petrels portable tube launcher may be used on land or on the deck of a ship.