Euronaval 2018: Nexter/Thales RapidFire T40AA on show

The French Navy future logistic vessels (FLOTLOG program) are likely to be fitted with both naval gun and missile systems. Among companies showcasing their solutions at this week's Euronaval show, Nexter is presenting for the first time a full scale model of its RapidFire T40AA anti-aircraft system, jointly designed with Thales.

Nexter Naval Rapid Fire 001 Nexter/Thales' RapidFire T40AA at Euronaval 2018

Thanks to the accuracy and efficiency of the CTAI (Joint Venture Nexter and BAE) 40 mm gun and ammunition, the RapidFire T40AA system is capable of intercepting helicopters, drones or light craft up to a distance of 4000 m. This performance is achieved through a viewfinder with electro-optical day/night cameras and a moving target tracking function. The French defense group explains Navy Recognition why the RapidFire could fit the French Navy needs for its future FLOTLOG fleet.

- What are the advantages of the Naval Rapid Fire ?

Navy and Army forces have to face more and more new threats, especially LS4 (LS4 : Low, Small, Slow, Stealth, Swarm) ones like drones (UAV, USV ...) as well as common threats.

Forces require new defence means which match to these new threats, including cost and number of engagement concerns.

Thales and Nexter develop the new RAPIDFire system which fulfil this defence need, thanks to the 2 companies know-how and expertise (Thales in the field of anti-air firing control and system integrator, Nexter in the field of turreted gun). One of the RAPIDFire assets is the new 40 CTA gun base, which is the new medium calibre reference.

The RAPIDFire system is a new 40mm multirole artillery system for Navies, Armies and Air Forces. RAPIDFire includes an anti air firing control system, an anti air turret based on the 40CTA cannon, a new anti air ammunition to be added to the large panel of already available ones. Obviously this anti air capability is the most demanding one, however the RAPIDFire also fulfils antisurface (and ground to ground missions). The extreme accuracy of the system enables to destroy the selected threats with few ammunition.

RAPIDFire responds to the Very SHOrt Range needs of the Navies, Armies and Air Forces facing an increasing number of modern threats such as drones (air and surface ones) by using a modern, mutli threats, multi domains and multi environments (air and sea) artillery system ; the cost per engagement of a RAPIDFire matches to the cost of the new threats. It completes advantageously missile defense.

Dedicated for :

Police operations: Warning and stopping shots (anti-piracy, anti trafficking, ...)

Combat operations: Neutralisation shots, including against asymmetric threats, self defence,...

Ground Forces and Navies are more and more facing modern threats as mainly drones (UAV, USV...), but also light aircraft, small ships, partly RAM (Rockets, Artillery, Mortar), helicopters, light armoured vehicles, missiles.... RAPIDfire is the ultimate fence (range from less than 50 m to 4 000 m) to complete missile mean ; it can deal with many targets in a very short time.

- Why do you think it the right gun for a vessel like FLOTLOG ?

The DGA didn't communicate the armament specification of the FLOTLOG program, however, the main assets of the RAPIDFire are :

· Multi purpose: ground & naval, anti-air and anti-surface capabilities

· Very Short Range (up to 4000m) Defense in front of today and tomorrow threats

· Integrated mode (via CMS/C2) or autonomous mode (thanks to the integrated optronic sight)

· Compatible with almost all ground and naval platforms

Low engagement cost, adequate to emerging threats due to :

· Low dispersion cannon,

· A brand new co-localized sight dedicated to anti-air threat and anti-surface as well,

· An up-to-date firing control system

· A digital turret

These advantages reduce the ammunition number fired per engagement so that enables a larger number of engagements from the same number of ammunitions.

· The compactness of this canon leads to a small, light, non-penetrating Turret, which will be easy to integrate on all platforms or vessels

- The system doesn't exist yet. How do you make sure that development costs won't make the Naval Rapid Fire more expensive than its competition ?

First demonstration firings were made in real conditions performed since 2011 to 2014, confirming the maturity of this system, a low risk development of this new architecture (presented at Euronoval exhibition). Based on the reuse of subsystems in mass production (digital 40CT cannon, processor identical to the one used in the Jaguar-Ajax-Warrior turrets, etc..), a design to cost, and duality between land and naval applications offers synergies of production / optimized maintenance etc.. RAPIDfire will be a reference because of a competitive acquisition cost, a Long terme and optimised maintenance (Life Cycle Cost), reliable, robust and easy to use.

- What is the status of the project today and how long would it take Nexter (and Thales) to mass produce it ?

· First demonstration firings in real conditions : 2011

· Thales and Nexter selfunding

· First customer by 2019

· New design prototype qualification : 2021

· First deliveries: 2022

- Can we expect more naval gun systems from Nexter in the future ? Is this a field in which you want to expand your portfolio ?

Nexter has already a large portfolio of canon and in particular two type of Naval caliber, The Narwhal 20mm turret, 46 unit sold to 4 countries. It now has it's big brother, the new RAPIDFire system with its 40CTA canon.

The evolution of threats and the feedback of the various operations worldwide gave birth to a new tendency, the increase of the calibers, Nexter and Thales respond today to these threats with the RAPIDFire, and will be ready to evolve to always answer at best the different threats.

- Does your extensive experience in the land sector brings some added value to the naval field ?

It's very interesting for the Forces today to have a duality between them (land and naval applications for instance) to take benefit of synergy of production, optimized maintenance through a long term support. Thanks to this synergy, updates/upgrading from one sector is applicable on the other one, this way, the growth potential of the RAPIDFire will benefits both the Navy and Land forces, and Air force as well.

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