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Rapier Field Standard C (FSC)

The Rapier missile development began in the 1960s, when a requirement was identified for a mobile, surface-to-air missile system for protecting strategic assets from attack by low-flying aircraft. Rapier was being designed to augment the larger, less maneuverable Bloodhound system.

The British Aircraft Corporation had already been working on its own private venture system, Sightline, when the Ministry of Defence issued a requirement, ET.316, for a mobile surface-to-air system. Initially, the MoD was planning to buy the American Mauler missile system, but when Mauler was cancelled, they turned to the BAC Sightline project and provided financial assistance to ensure the development programme was successfully completed. During the early trials of the Rapier missile, as it became known, it was found to be very accurate, therefore it relied upon a direct impact on its target, rather than using large proximity fused warheads used by its competitor missiles.

The Rapier missile system entered service with the British Army and the Royal Air Force in 1971. It initially used and optical tracker but this was found to have limitations and so later versions were delivered with the Blindfire tracking radar.

A mobile tracked version of Rapier was developed for the Shah of Iran, but following the collapse of the Shahs government before deliveries could take place the system was offered to the British Army. Tracked Rapier entered service with the British Army in Germany in 1982. The Rapier system has been continually developed and the latest version, Rapier FSC (Field Standard C) entered British Army service in 1996.

The Rapier FSC system provides a Low Level Air Defence (LLAD) capability over the battlefield. It consists of a launcher with 8 ready to fire missiles and an electro-optical tracker. Each fire unit can cover an Air Defence Area (ADA) of approximately 100 square kms.



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