Royal Artillery's new Sky Sabre missile system can destroy a tennis ball travelling the speed of sound
A SOPHISTICATED missile system capable of striking a tennis ball travelling at speed of sound has been green-lit for military service.
Gunners from 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, based at Thorney Island, have taken control of the hi-tech Sky Sabre weapons platform.
The advanced ‘detect and destroy’ air-defence system will be ‘a real step up’ and ‘the system of choice’ according to defence experts.
Replacing the former Rapier devices, the new weapons have been built to counter the threat of Russian stealth fighters and hypersonic missiles.
Jeremy Quin, defence procurement minister, said: ‘Sky Sabre’s spearheading technology has significantly upgraded the protection of our forces from threats from the air.
‘This cutting-edge defence system is a clear demonstration of our warfighting capabilities to those who wish to do us harm.’
Sky Sabre is made up of a common anti-air modular missile, with three times the range of Rapier, and the Giraffe radar, that rotates 360 degrees on an extending mast and can scan out to 75 miles for threats.
The missiles can reach speeds of 2,300mph, destroying fighter aircraft, drones and even laser-guided smart bombs out to 16 miles.
Eight missiles are mounted on the launcher, which is able to re-arm in less than half the time of Rapier.
Defence expert Nicolas Drummond said the system was one of the most deadly of its kind in the world, adding that it ‘is definitely one of the best systems in Nato and is used by France and Italy’.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lane, commanding officer of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, said: ‘We will be able to compete with our peers and take on some of the toughest adversaries.
‘It gives us a capability we have not had before; this new missile system with its new launcher and world-class radar will absolutely put us at the forefront of ground-based air defence.’
Major Tim Oakes, senior training officer on Sky Sabre, added: ‘Sky Sabre is so accurate and agile that it is capable of hitting a tennis ball sized object travelling at the speed of sound.
‘In fact, it can control the flight of 24 missiles simultaneously whilst in flight, guiding them to intercept 24 separate targets. It is an amazing capability.’