Royal Artillery retires its Rapier missiles and unveils new Sky Sabre air defence system


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AFTER decades of sterling work defending the skies from enemy threats, soldiers from the Royal Artillery finally bid farewell to the nation’s air defence workhorse today – as the army unveiled its latest ‘lethal’ missile system.​


Soldiers from the 16 Regiment Royal Artillery on parade as they take part in the change of colours parade as the regiment bids farewell to its Rapier missiles, pictured rear, and welcomes in the all new state-of-the-art Sky Sabre air defence system as its ceremonial colours, at Baker Barracks on Thorney Island. Picture date: Thursday January 27, 2022.

Troops from 16 Regiment Royal Artillery held a ceremony to retire the Rapier missile system after 50 years of service as it is replaced by the Sky Sabre air defence system.

The event, attended by defence secretary Ben Wallace and deputy chief general staff Lieutenant General Sir Chris Tickell, was held for the regiment to receive its new colours which are normally flags used to identify the unit but, for this artillery regiment, its air defence missiles take up the role of the colours.

The Rapier missiles were symbolically driven off the parade ground at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island, before its replacement, the Sky Sabre air defence system was unveiled to a fanfare composed for the occasion.
The Rapier system was used in service from Kuwait to the Falklands war but was also visibly deployed to several London parks and tower blocks to combat any security threats during the 2012 Olympics.

The new Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) used by the Sky Sabre has three times the range of the Rapier and can reach speeds of 2,300mph and can target fighter aircraft, drones and laser-guided smart bombs.
The system’s Giraffe Agile Multi Beam 3D medium-range surveillance radar can cover 360 degrees to a range of 120km.


Change of regimental colours parade 16 Royal Artillery Regiment at Baker Barracks on Thorney Island on Thursday 27 January 2022 Pictured: 16 Regiment Royal Artillery troops marching past the new Sky Sabre system Picture: Habibur Rahman

The system is already deployed in the Falklands – and could potentially see action in eastern Europe amid the on-going tensions between Russia and the Ukraine.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lane, 16 Regiment’s commanding officer, said Sky Sabre and his troops were ‘ready and able’ to respond to threat facing Ukraine if required.
‘It’s designed to take on threats from the 21st century and if we are asked to deploy to other areas then we are ready to do so,’ he said.

‘Our men and women are absolutely operationally experienced wherever we have deployed with Rapier and are ready and able, having done the conversion courses to this very complicated and new 21st century weapons system to take on the next challenge or war or whatever comes our way.’


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