Rapier missile

From Academic Kids

The Rapier surface-to-air missile began development in the 1960s as the ET316 Sightline project, to combat supersonic, low level, high manoeuvrability craft. Entering service at the end of the sixties, it was promoted as a 'hittile', originally relying on direct impact with the target rather than the large proximity-fuzed warheads used by other missiles.

The initial version employed an optical tracker. Later versions added a tracking radar (Blindfire) and an electro-optical tracker. A cheaper export derivative with a laser tracker was known as Laserfire. Rapier in its initial form was towed by trucks and typically used for airfield defence; however, a tracked version (Tracked Rapier) was subsequently developed.

A version of the Rapier missile was deployed during the Falklands War and credited with 20 kills.

The current version, Rapier FSC (Field Standard C), was developed by MBDA (previously Matra BAe Dynamics) and is in service with the Royal Artillery and the RAF Regiment. There is also a export version of the missile called Jernas. Development of the FSC system began at the end of the 1980s and the systems first entered service in 1996.

It is used in a combined system with the Blindfire tracking radar and the Dagger surveillance radar. Eight missiles and the radar systems are combined into a single towable automatic firing unit. The missile has a high explosive warhead and is now fitted with a laser proximity fuse. The missile's propulsion system is a two stage enhanced solid-propellant rocket motor capable of around Mach 2.5. The guidance is automatic infrared and radar command to line of sight.

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