The first tranche of the next-generation air defence system has been accepted into service.
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The MBDA-built Sky Sabre air defence system has officially entered service with the British Army, replacing the Rapier system, which has been in service since the 1970s.
The British Army’s 16 Regiment Royal Artillery is now accepting the first tranche of Sky Sabre platforms, tipped to deliver unprecedented speed, accuracy, performance and target acquisition.
Sky Sabre can purportedly hit a tennis ball-sized target travelling at the speed of sound.
The next-generation air defence system is built with three key components, operated up to 15 kilometres apart in the battlespace – a Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam 3D medium-range surveillance radar; a computer system linking the radar and missiles; and a 98-kilogram Common Anti-Air Modular Missiles (CAMM).
The Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam 3D medium-range surveillance radar can rotate 360 degrees on an extending mast, capable of scanning out to 120 kilometres for threats.
The computer system is expected to support ‘Link 16’ – a tactical datalink allowing Sky Sabre to share its information with Royal Navy vessels, Royal Air Force systems and allied assets.
The CAMMs, which are double the weight of Rapier with three times the range, are expected to hit speeds of 2,300mph, targeting fighter aircraft, drones and laser-guided smart bombs.
The system includes eight missiles mounted on the launcher, which can fire in a multi-directional manner, designed to significantly reduce its signature.
The launcher can also rearm in less than half the time of Rapier.
“Sky Sabre’s spearheading technology has significantly upgraded the protection of our forces from threats from the air,” Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said.
“This cutting-edge of defence system is a clear demonstration of our warfighting capabilities to those who wish to do us harm.”
Commanding Officer of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lane, said Sky Sabre would enable the Army to compete with peers to counter threats.
“It gives us a capability we have not had before; this new missile system with its new launcher and world-class radar will absolutely put us at the forefront of ground-based air defence,” he added.
The outgoing Rapier system has been used in a several major deployments, including Kuwait, the South Atlantic and during the 2012 Olympics in London.