SURFACE TO AIR MISSILES (SAM)

RAPIER

 

Rapier is a British surface-to-air missile developed for the British Army and UK Royal Air Force, It is no longer in service with the Royal Air Force having been superseded by the HVM Starstreak.

Rapier is a British surface-to-air missile developed for the British Army and UK Royal Air Force, It is no longer in service with the Royal Air Force having been superseded by the HVM Starstreak.

Rapier began development in the 1960s as the ET.316 project which was a back up for the planned purchase of the US Mauler missile system.

 

The project was to combat supersonic, low level, high manoeuvrability craft.

 

The British Aircraft Corporation, as it was at the time, had a private venture Sightline which formed the basis of ET.316. The subsequent cancellation of Mauler meant that ET.316 would be completely developed. Entering service with the British military in 1971, due to its accuracy it was promoted as a "hittile", originally relying on direct impact with the target rather than the large proximity fused warheads used by other missiles.

The initial version employed an optical tracker. Later versions added a tracking radar Blindfire (DN181) and an electro-optical tracker. A cheaper export derivative with a laser tracker was known as Laserfire.

Rapier in its initial outing took the form of a wheeled launcher with four missiles, an optical tracker unit and trailer of stores the whole kit along with crew delivered by three Land Rovers. It was typically used for airfield defence.

With the addition of the tracker radar unit enemy targets could be identified quicker and then the operator could choose an entirely automatic launch, or manual operation.

A mobile tracked version Tracked Rapier was subsequently developed using the US M548 tracked carrier for the Shah of Iran. With the collapse of the Shah's government before delivery BAe had a system which they offered to the Royal Air Force.

 

RAPIER Specifications
Type Low-level air defence
Manufacturer BAe Systems
Weight 42kg
Warhead Fragmentation explosive close proximity warhead with Proximity triggered chemical fuse
Length 2.35m
Diameter 13.3cm
Performance Speed Mach 2+, range 7km, guidance Semi-Automatic to Command Line of Sight (SACLOS)
Photo Copyright BAe Systems