PARIS – France’s future navy surface ships will be protected from swarm attacks by the RAPIDFire very short range weapon system developed by a Thales and Nexter consortium, the DGA French procurement agency has announced.

Based on the medium-caliber, cased, 40mm gun developed by CTAI, the international subsidiary of Nexter Systems and BAE Systems, RAPIDFire was designed to respond to new threats, notably low, small, slow, stealthy, swarm attacks that can saturate conventional missile defenses. It has a range of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles).

Integrated onto the unmanned turret, the gun has an optronic fire-control system which can be controlled by the operator. Threat analysis is shared with the ship’s combat management system, and the gunner can validate or adjust the strategy proposed by the gun. There are five different types of ammunition that the gun can choose from automatically to best engage a given threat.

In a joint statement Thales and Nexter specify that “the system is compatible with the full range of ammunitions developed for land forces programs and is predisposed to the use of future ammunition as the smart Anti Aerial Airburst (A3B) round” for use against UAVs for example.

The surface-to-air and surface-to-surface gun has been designed to be used on a common turret for ground and naval systems. This means the RAPIDFire system will be able to be used on land vehicles in the future.

Although the program is still in the development phase, the DGA French procurement agency has already undertaken firing tests with it and has chosen it to equip the French Navy’s future surface vessels. First delivery is scheduled for 2022.