After the Taygerkat short-range air defense system was deployed for use by the air forces and ground forces, the British military were disappointed with the capabilities of this complex. Repeated firing at the range on radio-controlled targets demonstrated the very limited capabilities of the anti-aircraft missiles of this complex for the protection of troops and objects from missile and bomb attacks of modern jet aircraft.
Just as on the ships in the case of the "Sea Cat" complex, the launch of the Taygket SAM also had a "frightening" effect. Having noticed the launch of an anti-aircraft missile, the attack pilot or front-line bomber pilot often stopped the attack of the target and carried out an energetic anti-missile maneuver. It is quite natural that the military wanted to have not only a “scarecrow”, but also a really effective low-altitude air defense system.
At the beginning of 60, Matra BAe Dynamics, a subsidiary of British Aerospace Dynamics, began designing an anti-aircraft complex that was supposed to replace the Taygerkat air defense system and compete with the MIM-46 Mauler air defense system in the United States.
The new short-range air defense system, called Rapier, was intended to directly cover military units and objects in the front-line zone from air assault weapons operating at low altitudes.
In the British air defense units of the ground forces, the complex began to arrive in 1972, and two years later it was put into service in the Air Force. There it was used to provide air defense of airfields.
The main element of the complex, which is transported in the form of trailers by off-road vehicles, is a launcher for four missiles, which also has a detection and target indication system. For the transportation of the post of guidance, the calculation of the five people and spare ammunition used three more car "Land Rover".
PU ZRK "Rapier"
Survey radar complex, combined with the launcher, capable of detecting low-altitude targets at a distance of more than 15 km. Guidance SAM is carried out using radio commands, which, after the capture of the target is fully automated.
The operator only keeps the air target in the field of view of the optical device, while the infrared direction finder accompanies the missile system on the tracer, and the calculating-decisive device produces guidance commands for the anti-aircraft missile. The electro-optical tracking and guidance device, which is a separate device, is connected by cable lines to the launcher and is taken out to 45m from the PU.
The missile system of the "Rapier" is made according to the normal aerodynamic configuration, it carries a warhead with a mass of 1400 gr. The first types of missiles were equipped only with contact action fuses.
Tracking radar DN 181 Blindfire
At the end of 80-x - the beginning of the 90-x complex passed a series of successive upgrades. Improvements have been missiles and ground equipment of the air defense system. In order to ensure the possibility of all-weather and daily use, the optical television system and the DN 181 Blindfire tracking radar were introduced into the equipment.
TTH ZRK "Rapier"
Since 1989, the production of the Mk.lE rocket began. This rocket was used non-contact fuse and fragmentation warhead directional. These innovations have significantly increased the probability of hitting the target. There are several variants of the air defense system "Rapier": FSA, FSB1, FSB2, which differ from each other in the composition of equipment and electronic components.
The complex is airborne, its individual elements can be transported on the external suspension of CH-47 Chinook and SA 330 Puma helicopters. The Rapier air defense system with tracking radar DN 181 Blindfire is placed in the cargo hold of the C-130 military transport aircraft.
In the middle of the 90-x the British anti-aircraft units began to receive a deeply modernized complex "Rapier-2000" (FSC).
Thanks to the use of more effective missiles of the Mk.2, with increased firing range to 8000 m, non-contact infrared fuses, and new optoelectronic guidance stations and tracking radar, the characteristics of the complex have increased significantly. In addition, the number of missiles at the PU has doubled to eight units.
The complex "Rapier-2000" introduced radar Dagger. Its capabilities allow you to simultaneously detect and lead up to 75 targets. Associated with a radar computer allows you to distribute targets and fire them depending on the degree of danger. Targeting missiles at the target radar is performed Blindfire-2000. This station differs from the DN 181 Blindfire radar used in the early version of the air defense missile system with better noise immunity and reliability.
An optoelectronic station enters the case in a difficult jamming environment or when a threat of defeat of an air defense system by anti-radar missiles occurs. It includes a thermal imager and a highly sensitive TV camera. Optoelectronic station accompanies the rocket on the tracer and gives the coordinates to the calculator. With the use of tracking radar and optical means simultaneous shelling of two air targets is possible.
For greater secrecy and noise immunity, even at the design stage, the developers abandoned the use of radio channels to exchange information between individual elements of the complex. When deploying an air defense missile system into a combat position, all its elements are connected by fiber optic cables.
The Rapier and Rapier-2000 complexes have become the most commercially successful British anti-aircraft systems. They were shipped to Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Oman, Singapore, Zambia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. To protect US air bases in Europe, several complexes were purchased by the US Department of Defense.
Despite the widespread use, the combat use of the Rapier was limited. It was first used by Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war. Data on the results of the use of the air defense system "Rapier" during this war are very contradictory. According to Iranian representatives, they managed to hit eight combat aircraft with the Rapier anti-aircraft missiles, among which they allegedly even had an Iraqi Tu-22 bomber.
During the Falkland War, the British deployed 12 Rapier complexes without Blindfire to cover the airborne forces. Most researchers agree that they shot down two Argentine combat aircraft - the Dagger fighter and the Skyhawk A-4 attack aircraft.
In 1983, British ground air defense units began to receive the Tracked Rapier mobile complex, which was intended to escort tank and mechanized units.
Self-propelled air defense system Tracked Rapier
Initially, this complex was designed and manufactured by the order of the Shah of Iran. But by that time, when this air defense missile system was ready, the shah had already lost power, and it was no longer talking about supplies to Iran. LAW Tracked Rapier entered the 22 air defense regiment, where they served until the beginning of the 90-x.
The base for the “Rapier” tracked vehicle was the American M548 tracked carrier, the design of which, in turn, was based on the M113 BTR.
On M548, all elements of the Rapier complex were installed except for the Blindfire tracking radar. There was simply no free space for a car. This worsened the capabilities of the air defense system to combat airborne targets at night and in poor visibility conditions, but at the same time, the time required to transfer the complex from a marching to a combat position was reduced.
At present, the caterpillar "Rapiers" have been replaced in the British air defense units of the ground forces by self-propelled Starstreak SP anti-aircraft complexes, which can be translated from English as "Star Trail".
ZRK Starstreak SP
This short-range anti-aircraft system installed on armored chassis or off-road vehicles was created by analogy with the American M1097 Avenger air defense system based on MANPADS. But, in contrast to the FIM-92 Stinger, the Starstreak anti-aircraft missile uses guidance on a laser beam (command semi-active guidance on a laser beam, the so-called “saddled beam” or “laser path”).
In this case, the British in the face of the company-developer Shorts Missile Systems once again originated. In addition to the laser guidance system, three warheads made of tungsten alloy in the form of a dart are used in high-speed missiles. The firing range of the Starstreak SAM is up to 7000 m, the height of the lesion is up to 5000 m. The length of the missile is 1369 mm, the weight of the missile is 14 kg.
The first and second stages accelerate the rocket to speed 4M, after which there is a separation of the three arrow-shaped combat elements, which continue the flight by inertia. After separation, each of them acts independently and is aimed at the target individually, which increases the likelihood of defeat.
After hitting the target and penetrating the hull of an airplane or a helicopter, a non-contact fuse is triggered with some delay, activating the warhead. Thus, the target being hit causes the maximum possible damage.
In the British army, the Stormer tracked armored vehicle is used as the base for the self-propelled anti-aircraft system. A passive infrared system for searching and tracking air targets ADAD (Air Defense Alerting Device), manufactured by Thales Optronics, is installed on its roof.
The ADAD's detection range for a fighter-type target is about 15 km, and a combat helicopter type is about 8 km. The reaction time of the complex since the detection of the target is less than 5 seconds.
The management and maintenance of the Starstreak SP self-propelled air defense missile system is carried out by three people: the commander, the driver and the guidance operator. In addition to the eight missiles, the TPK is ready for use, there are twelve spare ones in combat packing.
Starstreak air defense system is in service with the British army since 1997, initially the complex entered the air defense units of the 12 regiment. In South Africa, delivered 8 SAMs of this type. There are also contracts with Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Successful tests Starstreak held in the United States.
The merits of Starstreak SAM include their insensitivity to the widely used means of countering MANPADS - heat traps, high speed of flight and the presence of three independent combat units. Disadvantages are the need to accompany the target with a laser beam throughout the ZUR flight path and the sensitivity of the laser guidance system to the state of the atmosphere and interference in the form of a smoke or aerosol curtain.
The armament of the British destroyers URO Type 45 includes the PAAMS long-range air defense system, which uses the Aster-15 / 30 SAM with active radar homing head (GOS). The name of the Aster anti-aircraft missiles, differing only in the first acceleration stage, was received from the mythical Greek archer Asterion.
These anti-aircraft missiles are also used in SAMP-T air defense systems (Surface-to-Air Missile Platform Terrain). What can be translated as "Ground-based air defense and medium-range anti-missile system." SAMP-T ZRS was created by the international consortium Eurosam, which includes the British company BAE Systems.
The composition of SAMS-T
The structure of the air defense missile system includes: the Thompson-CSF Arabel universal radar with a PAR, combat command post, self-propelled vertical launchers with eight ready-to-use missiles in their transport and launch containers. All elements of the SAMP-T are placed on the chassis of all-wheel drive trucks with 8 x8 wheel formula.
The first successful tests using all components of SAMP-T ZRS took place in the summer of 2005. After a series of tests in 2008, SAMP-T was put into trial operation in the armed forces of France and Italy. In 2010, the first successful interception of a ballistic target took place at the French test site of Bicaross.
Already we can say that the European British-French-Italian consortium Eurosam managed to create a universal anti-missile and anti-aircraft air defense missile system, which today may well compete with the American MIM-104 Patriot.
TTH ZRS SAMP-T
SAMP-T ZRS can conduct a circular attack of air and ballistic targets in the 360 degrees sector. It possesses highly maneuverable long-range missiles, a modular design, a high degree of automation, and high fire performance and mobility on the ground. SAMP-T can fight aerodynamic targets at a range of 3-100 km, at altitudes up to 25 km and intercept ballistic missiles at a range of 3-35 km. The system can track up to 100 targets simultaneously and fire at 10 air targets, 8 SAM aster-30 can be launched in just 10 seconds.
At the initial part of the rocket’s flight, its trajectory is constructed according to the data loaded into the microprocessor, which controls the autopilot. On the middle part of the trajectory, the course is corrected using radio commands according to data from the multi-purpose radar. At the final part of the flight, targeting takes place with the help of an active homing head.
Recently, the SAM of SAMP-T is taking part in international exhibitions and tenders. She is actively lobbied by the governments of the developer countries. As it became known, during the visit of French President Francois Hollande to Azerbaijan in May 2014, the latter persistently urged President Aliyev to acquire this anti-aircraft system.
Often in the domestic media, the European SAMP-T ZRS is compared with the latest Russian anti-aircraft system C-400. In this case, "analysts" indicate the superiority of the range of the Russian system. However, such a comparison is not quite correct. The C-400 ground-to-ground missile systems use heavier missiles, whose starting weight exceeds the “Aster-30” almost four times. The closest Russian analogue of the SAMP-T system in terms of firing range and fire performance is the promising medium-range VRS of the V-Kniaz C-350, which is currently completing tests.
Given the rather high characteristics of SAMP-T air defense systems and the fact that the Aster family missiles are already in service with the Royal Navy warships fleet, the UK government is considering the adoption of the land version of the anti-aircraft system in service. It can be assumed with a high degree of probability that this will happen in the near future.