RAPIDFire has been developed to rapidly engage very small targets such as UAVs, which are becoming of increasing importance as a reconnaissance system, as well as carrying weapons. The system was first shown at Eurosatory in 2012 but has since been fully integrated and is now to production standard.
It essentially consists of a 6x6 cross-country track chassis with a protected cab for the crew. To provide a more stable firing platform, four stabilisers are lowered to the ground.
Mounted on the rear of the chassis is a remote controlled turret armed with a 40mm Case Telescoped Armament System (CTAS), which has recently been qualified by France and the UK.
To enable very small turrets to be engaged, a 40mm round has been developed called the A3B or anti-air bursting round. This contains about 200 tungsten pellets, which create a cloud in front of the incoming threat. A burst of about five rounds would be enough to neutralise an air threat, with a total of 140 rounds of ready-use ammunition being carried.
The operator controls are in the cab and mounted on the turret roof is the stabilised sighting system, which consists of day and infrared channels and an eye-safe laser rangefinder.
While the first example is based on the Mercedes-Benz Unimog (6x6) cross-country chassis, Thales stressed to the Daily that it could be integrated onto other wheeled chassis.
RAPIDFire would typically be integrated with a command and control system that would first detect and then allocate targets to a particular fire unit. The Thales CONTROLMaster 60, for example, could control up to six RAPIDFire systems.