The UK Ministry of Defence announced on Monday that its next-generation Sky Sabre air defense system has entered service to replace the country’s aging Rapier surface-to-air missiles.
To be utilized by the army’s 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, the new missile system features improved speed, accuracy, performance, and target acquisition capabilities. It is designed to hit small targets traveling at the speed of sound.
The air defense system is equipped with a Saab Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam 3D medium-range surveillance radar, allowing it to detect and track enemy aircraft at a range of 75 miles (120 kilometers).
The Sky Sabre is operated by the British Army’s surface-to-air missile operations center, responsible for processing detected threats and communicating with the country’s other land, sea, and air assets. The system’s fire-control computer can guide 24 missiles to individual targets simultaneously.
The army deployed the missile launcher, radar, and command-and-control elements nine miles apart to increase the system’s survivability. Missiles can be reloaded in less than half the time needed than with the old Rapier missile system.
What a milestone! Sky Sabre training has started. A huge effort by the whole force to get to this significant point. A great start for the first Battery, the Regiment and 7 AD Group to modernisation @rhqra @7AirDefence @BritishArmy @3rdUKDivision @byMBDA @Saab @RAFAELdefense pic.twitter.com/6COjq8zPgK
— 16 Regt RA (@16RegtRA) January 15, 2021
The Sky Sabre features the cutting-edge Land Ceptor common anti-air modular missile fitted with an active radar seeker able to counter a wider range of threats, including low-observable targets, high-speed missiles, drones, and precision-guided air-to-ground weapons.
According to Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin, the new weapon system was built using state-of-the-art technologies, further upgrading the protection of British soldiers against air-based threats. “This cutting-edge defence system is a clear demonstration of our warfighting capabilities to those who wish to do us harm,” he said in a press release.
Commanding Officer of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lane, believes that the Sky Sabre will allow the British Army to take on some of the toughest adversaries, claiming that the weapon, its new launcher and radar will put the military “at the forefront of ground-based air defence.”
“Sky Sabre is so accurate and agile that it is capable of hitting a tennis ball sized object travelling at the speed of sound,” senior training officer Tim Oakes said. “In fact, it can control the flight of 24 missiles simultaneously whilst in flight, guiding them to intercept 24 separate targets. It is an amazing capability!”