As Ukraine continues to urge the West for faster delivery of air defense weapons like the NASAMS (Norweigian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System), an up-and-comer in the field is trying to disrupt aerial battles.
Manufacturer Nexter and Thales unveiled their latest version of the RAPIDFire autonomous gun turret specifically designed to combat low-level, near-quarter surface and air threats. The RAPIDFire was showcased at the Euronaval 2022 Naval Defense Exhibition in Paris. Thales described their new weapon as a “disruptive versatile gun system against modern threats.” If we look at what’s happening with low-cost Iranian drones attacking residential regions in Ukraine, while the Ukrainian Ground Forces spend more than triple just to fight one drone, it makes sense to explore a type of artillery that can automate defenses more efficiently. This is what the RAPIDFire aims to do.
“Efficiency is no longer based on quantity of metal delivered but upon accuracy,” Thales noted on their site.
The RAPIDFire, a multi-role artillery 40mm gun system, is based on the 40CTAS gun suite. Its features are integrated with the Fire Control system, including an “operator console, offering anti-surface and anti-air capabilities, in Naval and Land environments.” The system automatically seeks out and locks onto aerial or land threats as it pushes around 140 rounds in its rack (enough for approximately 30 interceptions), according to New Atlas.
The system can also handle CTAI’s telescoped munitions and is configured for future Anti-Aerial Airburst (A3B) rounds “that cannot be jammed, decoyed or triggered by clutter as it deals with airborne targets.” The turret is also remotely controlled, so except for maintenance, soldiers can use it even though they are located in a distant, more secure location.
Additionally, the munition has a state-of-the-art selection system that can select the right kind of ammunition to fire, depending on the type of threat it faces. As a result, it is the only system in the world capable of defeating personal watercraft, free-floating minds, ships, loitering munitions, unmanned aerial systems (like the Shahed-136), fighter jets, attack helicopters, and missiles at a range of 4,000 meters.
Ultimately, RAPIDFire is selling us the possibility of warfare with little to no collateral damage risk. Because of its versatile form, it can be added to land-based platforms like the CAESAR MkII truck chassis and other military vehicles (and ships).
“Thanks to its intuitive user interface and on-the-move firing capability, this system can be seamlessly integrated into a fixed or mobile air defense system to protect combat units on the ground as well as military bases, logistics convoys, sensitive sites, and high-value assets. This air defense system is scheduled to be deployed next year for sea qualifications aboard the French Navy’s fleet replenishment tanker Jacques Chevallier.”