RAPIDFire is an innovative, versatile close-in weapon system designed to protect naval vessels against modern air and surface threats.
Thales / Nexter press release
Naval forces are exposed to several threats with complex behaviours, such as unmanned air and surface vehicles, light aircraft and missiles. RAPIDFire leverages the combined expertise of Thales and Nexter to meet the very short-range defence requirements of the armed forces. The solution features a latest-generation multi-threat (air and surface), multi-environment (land and naval) gun system, with a cost of engagement commensurate with the value of the threats.
RAPIDFire is a gun system that offers high precision thanks to its optronic fire control system integrated onto the turret, its advanced algorithms, powerful gun and automatic ammunition management system allowing the best reactivity and efficiency for the operator. RAPIDFire incorporates the new reference medium calibre 40 mm gun developed by CTAI, the international subsidiary of Nexter Systems and BAE Systems. The system is compatible with the full range of ammunitions developed for land forces programmes and is predisposed to the use of future ammunition as the smart Anti Aerial Airburst (A3B) round.
Nexter and Thales formed a temporary consortium for RAPIDFire as part of a work programme and roadmap put in place 10 years ago. The programme is currently in the development phase. When development is complete, the weapon systems will enter production, and the first delivery is scheduled for 2022. Developed in a surface-to-air approach allowing use at sea but also from land, the project also provides an option to prepare for future use on land carriers. RAPIDFire, a true joint solution, will thus be a gun system capable of equipping naval, land and air forces.
“We’re delighted to be supporting the French Navy as it enhances the self-defence capabilities of its warships. With its combination of fast-into-action time and firing accuracy, RAPIDFire, developed in cooperation with Nexter, provides the best response for protecting Navy vessels against modern threats. It has the potential to become a key component of our offering of advanced force protection solutions.”
Thomas Got, Vice-President Integrated Airspace-protection Systems, Thales
“The 40 CTA has unrivalled power and compactness, making it a gun system that is particularly suitable for protecting surface vessels. With RAPIDFire, Nexter is delighted to extend the CTA40’s range of use in cooperation with Thales and the French Navy.”
Michel Vatrey, Systems and Programmes Director, Nexter
Naval News comments
As Naval News previously reported, the first two French Navy ship classes set to be fitted with this new close in weapon system (CIWS) are:
- the Chevallier-class replenishment tankers (also known as BRF)
- the future class of OPV (currently known as the Patrouilleurs Océanique program)
The move to procure (and fund the development of) a new CIWS can be perceived as a doctrinal change for the French Navy: Unlike many NATO navies, Marine Nationale vessels did not use close in weapon systems as a last resort protection against incoming missiles, relying instead on advanced and powerful electronic warfare jammers. That being said, the RAPIDFire based on the 40 mm gun developed by CTAI won’t be just a CIWS but a “hybrid” system: Unlike the Phalanx or Goalkeeper (both 20mm and 30mm Gatling systems), RAPIDFire comes with a full range of ammunition and can be fitted as the main naval gun system on smaller displacement vessels.