The Rapidfire turret can shoot up to 30 missiles with one magazine. He can fend off whole swarms with it. Manufacturers emphasize that the tower can also be mounted on a truck. Then he would be of great help to Ukraine.

Swarms of drones cannot be combated by most air defense systems. The reason is very simple: these systems can only launch a certain number of missiles. Designed to compete against jets and cruise missiles, that was enough. But cheap drones can also be used in a swarm that overwhelms defenses.

Now the defense contractors Nexter and Thales presented the latest version of their autonomous turret Rapidire at the Euronaval 2022 exhibition. Rapidfire is a classic iron flak as it was used in World War II. She doesn’t fire guided missiles, but projectiles. But that’s where the similarities to the older systems end, because the tower works completely autonomously. “Rapidfire is designed to protect platforms from airborne threats, including drones. It is the only air defense system capable of autonomously and automatically detecting, identifying and destroying a threat using target designation data provided by a warfare system.”

Fully Autonomous System

The tower does not require a crew, nor does it need to be integrated into the ship’s existing electronic architecture. It is also conceivable as a retrofit solution. The system has a magazine of 140 rounds, so it should be able to intercept 30 missiles – so it would be very difficult to carry out a saturation attack. The 40mm cannon can effectively engage targets up to 4000m away. “Anti Aerial Airburst” ammunition can be used. The projectiles explode in a timed manner in or near the target. With this ammunition, the risk of collateral damage is avoided, since the ammunition always explodes in the air and does not hit “anywhere” in the event of a miss.

The fire control system can acquire multiple targets, it has a fast reaction time and automatically selects the right type of ammunition. The manufacturers emphasize that the turret could also be easily adapted for ground vehicles. A system like this mounted on a heavy truck would currently be ideal for the Ukraine.