24 February 2019
By Luca Peruzzi
The short-range defence of vessels against asymmetric threats such as unmanned aerial vehicles, fast attack suicide boats or other surface and air vehicles in addition to conventional ones as well as the need to provide a naval gun system for homeland, anti-piracy and anti-smuggling operations are at the heart of the requirements which pushed Nexter and Thales to developed together the RapidFire Naval T40AA gun system.
The later provides a light and compact, easy to integrate and multi-role solution for today’s and future threats, centred on an over-deck self-contained gyro-stabilised gun mounting equipped with the 40 CTA (40 mm Cased Telescoped Ammunition, developed jointly by Nexter and BAE Systems) gun and ammunition package, a co-located but independent optronic sensor head fitted directly to the turret, and a moving target tracking function for a total weight of 3 tonnes including 140 ready-to-fire rounds magazine.
Developed for autonomous operations with a one console operator for weapon engagement and firing order or an integrated mode with target designation from the Command Management System, the RapidFire Naval gun system’s 40CTA offers the power of a 40mm gun with the compactness of a 25 mm, said Thales and Nexter representatives at NAVDEX Thales stand, with the benefit to use the same gun and ammunition used by the land gun system for the EBRC-Jaguar. The system has been successfully live tested on land test-range demonstrating required performances and capabilities, according to the two companies’ representative and showed video.
Capable to use the 40 CTA ammunition package, including general purpose (GP) and APFSDS against armoured vehicles rounds, training round and the anti-aerial air burst (A3B) for air targets, the latter integrating hundreds of tungsten pellets, the gyro-stabilised gun has a firing rate up to 200 rounds for minute with a typical burst against air threats of up to 10 A3B rounds, with an effective range up to 4000 meters against air target (A3B ammunition) and up to 2500 meters against surface threats (with general purpose and APFSDS rounds).
The RapidFire Naval however hasn’t been developed to engage ‘challenging’ missile threats such as sea-skimming missiles but is a complementary to inner-layer defence system based on missile weapon package.
The co-located gyrostabilised optronic sight which can work independently from the gun, is equipped with infrared and daylight TV channels in addition to a laser range finder for airborne application, which enables visual identification prior to engagement, target tracking for engagement and real time assessment of interception.
No manual handling is required prior to firing and the moving turret is located on top of an over-deck structure (which height depends on ship type) that enables firings at very short range as well as providing a storage compartment for additional rounds.
The RapidFire Naval gun system has been developed for both export and national programmes, the latter based on a French Navy’s programme for an inner layer defence system based on a 40 mm gun.
Photo by Luca Peruzzi