Sky Sabre: New air defence system launched

The Rapier replacement has three times the missile range and eight times the radar range.

A "cutting-edge" air defence system has rolled into the British Armed Forces, rather emphatically pushing the previous Rapier model to one side.

Sky Sabre has been accepted by the Army's 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, but further deliveries will ensure capability across the globe, with all three services and with NATO.

The weapon system eclipses the Royal Artillery's compact Rapier across the stats board and can re-arm eight missiles in half the time (30 minutes).

Sky Sabre can fire eight larger missiles in one shot, compared to its predecessor's two, increased the range from 8.2 kilometres to 25.

Operational since the 1970s, Rapier has offered protection against fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) and cruise missiles in Kuwait and the South Atlantic.

Sky Sabre can perform similarly, but its Common Anti-Air Modular Missiles (CAMM) are twice as heavy as the previous rounds and can intercept laser-guided smart bombs.

The new system offers greater range and firepower than the previous Rapier system (Picture: MOD).

Sky Sabre's Giraffe Agile Multi Beam 3D medium-range surveillance radar, which rotates 360° on an extending mast, has a range of 120km, increased from the Rapier's 15km.

Senior Training Officer Major Tim Oakes talked of the system's "amazing capability", saying: "Sky Sabre is so accurate and agile that it is capable of hitting a tennis ball-sized object travelling at the speed of sound.

"In fact, it can control the flight of 24 missiles simultaneously whilst in flight, guiding them to intercept 24 separate targets."

Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said: "Sky Sabre's spearheading technology has significantly upgraded the protection of our forces from threats from the air.

"This cutting-edge defence system is a clear demonstration of our warfighting capabilities to those who wish to do us harm."