One of the first systems produced will be installed on French Navy fleet replenishment tanker Jacques Chevallier in early 2023 ahead of the at-sea qualification phase. The RAPIDFire is being developed through the French Ministry of Armed Forces S40SA program, which encompasses different applications with different users.
The French Navy plans to order more than 40 units in different batches. The ongoing phase calls for the delivery of 8 systems, another one being used for testing and qualification. They should be followed by four successive batches of 10 units.
Designed to protect platforms from low-level air threats, including drones, RAPIDFire can autonomously and automatically acquire, identify and destroy a threat using target designation data provided by a combat management system. With a ready rack of 140 rounds of ammunition, corresponding to about 30 interceptions, the system offers effective firepower against drones and swarms of drones, avoiding attrition of surface-to-air missiles in the event of a saturation attack.
Thanks to automatic real-time selection of different types of ammunition, RAPIDFire is the only system capable of defeating all types of threats, including personal watercraft, free-floating mines, ships, loitering munitions, unmanned aerial systems, fighter jets, attack helicopters and missiles at ranges of up to 4,000 metres. On the BRF, the RAPIDFire will be coupled with a radar provided by the Danish manufacturer Terma. Another platforms on which the RAPIDFire will be installed are the 10 offshore patrol vessels known as “patrouilleurs océaniques” (PO), of which the first two are to be delivered in 2025.
RAPIDFire is extremely accurate and can defeat threats with no risk of collateral damage thanks to the coupling between the fire control system and the turret, and ultimately through the use of Anti Aerial Airburst (A3B) munitions, still in development. A3B rounds are time-fuzed for greater effectiveness against all types of targets and cannot be jammed, decoyed or triggered by clutter.
RAPIDFire is built around the 40mm CTA gun suite and ammunition and has already been adopted by the armed forces of France, the United Kingdom and Belgium. The 40mm CTA gun just achieved another successful live firing trials campaign in Bourges, in the center of France. “We were very surprised about the results of the test”, a Nexter representative said. Live firing on a complete RAPIDFire system is expected before year’s end.
Besides naval applications, the RAPIDFire can be readily adapted for land-based platforms such as the CAESAR MkII truck chassis. Thanks to its intuitive user interface and on-the-move firing capability, this system can be seamlessly integrated into a fixed or mobile air defence system to protect combat units on the ground as well as military bases, logistics convoys, sensitive sites and high-value assets.