Home Europe British Army commissions new Sky Sabre ground-based air defense system

British Army commissions new Sky Sabre ground-based air defense system

Sky Sabre GBAD
Photo: UK defense ministry

The British Army has launched the new Sky Sabre ground-based air defense system that will replace the legacy Rapier solution.

According to a UK defense ministry announcement, the 16 Regiment Royal Artillery is now accepting into service the first tranche of Sky Sabre, while further procurements “will be configured to operate in all parts of the globe.”

The statement further said the Sky Sabre “will be able to hit a tennis ball-sized object travelling at the speed of sound.”

“Sky Sabre’s spearheading technology has significantly upgraded the protection of our forces from threats from the air. This cutting-edge of defense system is a clear demonstration of our warfighting capabilities to those who wish to do us harm,” UK defense procurement Minister Jeremy Quin said.

Sky Sabre incorporates three key components that can operate up to 15km apart in the battlespace. These include the Saab-built Giraffe Agile Multi Beam 3D medium-range surveillance radar that rotates 360 degrees on an extending mast and can scan out to 120km for threats. The radar guides the system’s Common Anti-Air Modular Missiles (CAMM) that are delivered by MBDA.

At 99kg each, the CAMM is double the weight of Rapier and has three times the range. CAMM can reach speeds of 2,300mph eliminating fighter aircraft, drones and even laser-guided smart bombs. Eight missiles are mounted on the launcher, which fire in a multi-directional manner that reduces its signature making it less of a target for adversaries. The launcher also re-arms in less than half the time of Rapier.

The missiles and the radars are connected by a computer system that also provides ‘Link 16’, a tactical datalink allowing Sky Sabre to share its information with Royal Navy vessels and Royal Air Force systems.

“We will be able to compete with our peers and take on some of the toughest adversaries. 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 defense,” Commanding Officer of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lane, said.

Operational since 1970s, Rapier has seen service in Kuwait, the South Atlantic, and most visibly when it deployed to numerous London parks to combat any security threats during the 2012 Olympics.