The new system is meant to counter jet fighters, helicopters, drones, cruise missiles and aerial guided ammunition. Further development into a C-RAM weapon is a target as well.
Key of the system's effectiveness is a new munition being developed by Nexter, which will be readily useable by the CTA guns on FRES and Warrior as well. The new round is the Anti-Aerial Air Burst ammunition, which works on the same principle of the German AHEAD projectile (which is also available for firing from the gun fitted on the Puma IFV), by carrying a load of tungsten pellets which are fired in a cloud on the path of the incoming threat.
The turret is unmanned, and mounts the gun and associated ammunition feed, together with an electro-optical detecting and targeting system, which can spot an airplane out to about 30 kilometers and an helicopter typically at around 15.
The RAPIDFire is shown as part of a system, receiving radar cueing from an external source, namely a CONTROL Master 60 surveillance radar, under the lead of a CONTROL C2 module, also from Thales, which can command up to 6 dispersed RAPIDFire modules and radar.
The RAPIDFire vehicle takes about one minute to stop if it is moving and go into battery, linking up to the CONTROL network. Once it is set, it has a reaction time as low as 4.5 seconds.
The gun has not been modified: it still only fires a maximum of 200 rounds for minute. This is not a problem, since lethality is such that a target will be downed with as few as one shot, or with a burst of 10 rounds at most.
The turret can be also enhanced by fitting Starstreak and/or LMM missiles in a six-pack. The Starstreak II is effective out to around 7 kilometers, even against UAVs with just 2 meters of wingspan, and the gun will be effective out to 4000 meters for air targets and 2500 for ground targets.
Wouldn't it be a perfect solution for replacing the Stormer HVM, once mounted on a FRES SV Common Base Platform...? If only there was money, of course.
As to FRES SV, General Dynamics UK is sticking to the development and trials schedule, even though it appears by now certain that production orders won't come in 2015, but probably not before 2017, with entry in service slipping to 2020.
They are going on full-speed with trials and development, and indeed they have announced that some preliminary activity is already going into determining the design solutions for the Recce Block 2 family of vehicles [the FRES SV is currently in the Recce Block 1 phase, which includes Scout vehicle, Protected Mobility vehicle, Recovery, and Repair vehicles. Recce Block 2 will follow with Ambulance, Command Post, Joint Fires Direction vehicle for the mobility of Fire Support Teams of the Royal Artillery and Engineer Recce vehicles].
Trials at Millbrok have informed some improvements to the Protected Mobility vehicle and are determining if the ambulance should be low or tall sided. The global trend is in having them tall sided, to have more space inside.
GDUK says that a production standard APC variant will be ready in mid-2013, and by September 2013 they also hope to have a production-representative FRES Scout.
|The Protected Mobility vehicle shown in a Theatre-Entry Standard configuration with RPG cage and with modular add-on armor|
|FRES Scout TES, with IED-jamming equipment installed.|
Work is under way to de-risk and develop training and simulation solutions that will be used by the Army when the FRES SV and Warrior CSP finally make it into service.
The french wheeled brigades are going to renew their own recce component with the Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et Combat (EBRC) light tank: two solutions are competing, the new CRAB from Panhard (up to 3 can fit into an A400 cargo aircraft) and the more mature Sphinx, also from Panhard.
|Panhard CRAB - DefenseUpdate.com|
|Missiles on the sides of the turret, on the Sphinx. Will the british army ever resolve to doing the same...? - ArmyRecognition|
Going with the LM solution is likely to offer significant savings (industry sources say that up to 250 million euro in development would be saved, not to count the future savings on joint maintenance and support), hopefully with a good return for the UK side of the deal, too.
These small, tough vehicles would sure be interesting to have in Brigade Recce Forces in the 7 just announced Infantry brigades that the British Army will have in the future. A squadron of EBCR, supplemented by Jackals, some of which in ISTAR configuration, would give a lot of easily-deployable firepower on relatively light, air portable platforms.
Again, lack of money means that this is only a nice dream, i fear.
I have hopes on the Jackal ISTAR, though: i expect the Jackal to be retained, and the Army has already in service the Protector RWS and the ROTAS mast mounted sensor, both used on the Mastiff Protected Eyes within Talisman system. Perhaps the Army will be able to field Jackal recce squadrons, including some in ISTAR configuration, in the new infantry brigades.
I hope so, at least. The usefulness of the Brigade Recce Force concept has been proved again and again and again in these years: one can only hope that Reserve and Regular RAC regiments that remain out of the 3 Armoured Brigades are re-roled as BRFs in the infantry brigades.
To give them a little bit of teeth and sense.