British Army unveils new weapons system with 3,700kph missile

Sky Sabre system can communicate directly with other parts of the armed forces

The British Army has unveiled its new air defence missile system “capable of responding to 21st-century threats”, including the developing Ukraine crisis.

The Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) used by the Sky Sabre system has three times the range of the old Rapier, can reach speeds of up to 3,700kph and can target fighter aircraft, drones and laser-guided smart bombs.

The system's Giraffe Agile Multi Beam 3D medium-range surveillance radar can cover 360 degrees to a range of 120 kilometres.

Lt Col Chris Lane, commanding officer of the 16th Regiment Royal Artillery, said that Sky Sabre and his service personnel were “ready and able” to respond to threats facing Ukraine, if required.

“It's designed to take on threats from the 21st century and if we are asked to deploy to other areas, then we are ready to do so,” he said.

“Our men and women are absolutely operationally experienced wherever we have deployed with Rapier and are ready and able, having done the conversion courses to this very complicated and new 21st-century weapons system to take on the next challenge or war or whatever comes our way.”

A soldier deploys the Agile Multi-Beam surveillance radar, part of the new Sky Sabre Air defence missile system. Photo: MoD

One key improvement with the Sky Sabre system is that it can communicate directly with other parts of the armed forces.

“It is a modern anti-air warfare system that will not only bring this regiment and the Royal Artillery but the British Army into the 21st century,” Lt Col Lane said.

“This kit means we can talk to an F-35 and the carrier strike group to be able to communicate what we see on our radars and they can share with us so we can inform our decisions to make fast, effective and lethal engagements.”

The regiment held a retirement ceremony for the Rapier missile system after 50 years of service.

Soldiers from the 16 Regiment Royal Artillery on parade as they retire Rapier. MoD

The event was attended by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and the deputy chief of general staff, Lt Gen Sir Chris Tickell, and also included the regiment receiving its new colours. The new colours are normally flags used to identify the unit but, for this artillery regiment, the air defence missiles take up the role of the colours.

The Rapier missiles were symbolically driven off the parade ground at Baker Barracks, West Sussex, before the Sky Sabre air defence system was unveiled.

The Rapier system was used in service from Kuwait to the Falklands but was also deployed to several London parks to respond to immediate threats during the 2012 Olympics.

Updated: January 27, 2022, 7:03 PM