The Rapier FSC air defense system, after being withdrawn from the British service, is likely to be aided to Ukraine in very large quantities.
The British Ministry of Defense has officially announced that it will supply Ukraine with a large number of anti-aircraft missiles, about 1,000 units, including launchers. The Rapier FSC is clearly not as powerful as IRIS-T or NASAMS, but the system can fairly effectively protect ground assets from a cruise missile attack, especially when used in large numbers.
Rapier FSC is a short-range air defense system with a target destruction range of up to 8 km. The complex is mounted on trailers and can be considered as conditional mobility. It is air-portable by transport aircraft or helicopters. Production of the Rapier began in the 1970s, but by the 1990s it received a significant update of all components, including the interceptor ammunition.
The center of the complex is the Dagger target acquisition and surveillance radar, which can accurately identify airborne attack objects at a distance of more than 15 km, even up to 32 km in the preliminary detection mode. The system’s Blindfire radar is tasked with guiding the missile, providing the ability to hit two targets simultaneously. It is a differential monopulse frequency agile radar operating at F band which provides fully automatic all-weather engagement to a range of 15km. The system incorporates a self-surveillance reversionary mode of operation. A dedicated missile command link provides dual firing capability.
In addition, the most distinctive feature of the Rapier FSC is an optical search station – installed on each launcher carrying eight missiles. The device has a thermal imaging channel, allowing it to operate without radar surveillance. When the surveillance radar has confirmed that the target is hostile the missile is launched.
The firing unit holds eight ready-to-fire missiles. The missiles are mounted on launcher rails on the walls of a rotatable turret. The Rapier Mk2 missile is equipped with a fragmentation high-explosive warhead, and is fitted with a multi-mode laser proximity fuse. The missile is guided towards the target at speed in excess of Mach 2.5 by passive infrared line of sight and active command to radar line of sight.
The Rapier FSC is expected to help Ukraine’s air defense effectively deal with the suicide drones that Russia is using, including the Shahed-136 or the Lancet.