Tracked Rapier RCM784, "hit-ile not miss-ile"

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INTRODUCTION:

Tracked Rapier consists of a modified M584 cargo carrier - itself a variant of the M113 APC with a modified “Rapier” towed short range anti-aircraft missile system with 8 Rapier missiles fitted on anti-vibration mounts to the flatbed of the vehicle.

image
Note how the IR dish is raised above the cab so it can ‘see’ forwards.

VEHICLE HISTORY:

Amid convoluted circumstances the Rapier missile system was developed to replace outdated anti-aircraft guns in the defence of British airfields. It first consisted of four missiles on a two wheel trailer mounting, a pulse doppler surveillance radar dish rotating at 60 RPM with a 15 kilometre range and an IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) radome on top. The missile used a SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command Line Of Sight) guidance system. A separate optical guidance and pointing unit - with a wide FOV of 20 degrees and a narrow FOV of 4.8 degrees - was used by the operators to select the target before firing. Once fired the operator would continue to manually track the target using his joystick, the missile is captured by the infrared tracking system after launch - the infrared system has a wide FOV of 11 degrees and a narrow FOV of 0.55 degrees - which automatically guides it onto the target though radio commands issued by the launcher.

Interestingly this means that no radar ‘lock’ is needed, so the surveillance radar can carry on looking for targets, any receiving RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) would still receive pings but might not be aware that you are firing at them due to a lack of lock tone.

The Rapier system had two major version before it was converted into Tracked Rapier, FSA and FSB. FSB added a few minor upgrades, mainly the ability to quickly turn off the search radar in case of anti-radiation attack. After being fitted to Tracked Rapier the towed variant would continue to be improved and are still in service with some countries today. (as an aside these would be excellent candidates for airfield defence in higher tier air battles)


Early launcher and optical guidance unit.

A new mobile anti-aircraft vehicle was needed to protect Chieftain tanks that were being sold to Iran in a lucrative deal (see sources). BAC (British Aircraft Corporation) responded by fitting a Rapier system to a M584 cargo transport, with development starting in 1974. After significant changes to the original M584 the new vehicle was designated RCM 748, with additional armour, a new diesel generator and eight missiles on a 360 degree mounting the Tracked Rapier was a great success cutting moving-to-firing time down from 15 minutes for a towed Rapier system to 30/15 seconds (sources disagree) for Tracked Rapier and able to move off again in as little as 20 seconds, in order to deploy the IR dish at the front of the launcher has to be raised into the firing position above the cab to ensure a full 360 capability.

At some point during its development it was shown off during the 1977 Paris air show. The optical guidance system was placed in the right side of the crew cab, and elevated through the roof for operation, the left side of the cab contained the driver and the tactical controller (think gunner) - who possessed a helmet mounted sight. The base system that they had fitted was not perfect however and lacked all-weather capabilities, to aid this a separate radar guidance unit was developed, “Blindfire”, the Tracked Rapier lacked additional space so this was carried by a second M584/RCM 748 but not required.

The deal with Iran fell though in 1978 and the British Army purchased the contract, eventually accepting the Tracked Rapier in 1981 and bringing it into service later in 1983. After introduction at FSB1 (Field Standard B - 1) Tracked Rapier was upgraded with a thermal-imaging tracker known as TOTE (Tracked Optically Thermally Enhanced) to enable it to operate in all-weather conditions without the use of a Blindfire unit.

Tracked Rapier was retired in the 1990s being replaced by the Stormer HVM.

image
Tracked Rapier, note the optical guidance unit on top of the right side of the cab.

MISSILES:

The Rapier system used several different missiles throughout its life, according to sources all are backwards combatable so should be able to be fired from Tracked Rapier. I’m going to pick the ones that I find with the most relevant information as some have contradicting/conflicting information.

Mk.1

The Mk.1 rocket weighing 42.6kg and used a contact fuse wired to a 1.4kg warhead with 0.4kg of explosives, it used a single stage rocket motor to achieve Mach 2 (2450km/hr), the rear of the missile has 4 tracers for the IR system to lock onto. It is described by some sources as ‘semi-armour piercing’. The missile can operate up to 7km from the launcher up to an altitude of 3km. Dimensions of the missile 2.23m x 1.13m.

Mk.1E

The Mk.1E rocket uses an upgraded fuse (unsure whether proximity, timed or distance) and a fragmentation warhead.

Mk.2A

The Mk.2A rocket is a longer range variant with the Mk.1Es fragmentation warhead, to achieve its longer range it uses a 2-stage solid rocket motor for a 15-20% increase in flight time, an increase in maximum ceiling from 3km to 5km and an increase in speed to Mach 2.5 (3062km/hr). It now weighs 43kg due to this addition.

Mk.2B

The Mk.2B rocket has combined both crush and IR remote fuses with a fragmentation and blast penetration warhead with the Mk.2As 2-stage solid rocket motor for longer range. It is reportedly used for light anti-armour duty in addition to AA duties.

The missile variants were especially hard to tie down as each specifically named version but I think the main takeaway is that at least 4 noticeably different missiles exist, a impact, a frag, a longer range frag & a longer range impact/frag hybrid.


You can see the cylindrical optical guidance unit lowered inside the cab. Also note the blast protection over the cab and the smoke dischargers at the back.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Weight: 14.01 tonnes

Length: 6.4 meters

Width: 2.8 meters

Height: 2.5 meters

Crew: 3 (commander, gunner, driver)

Armour: Proof against 7.62 small arms

Engine: 5.2 litre V6 Detroit diesel with 210 horsepower

Range: 300km

Speed: 30mph

Armament: 8 x Rapier missiles

Requires deployment to fire?: Yes

Deployment/packing time: ~20 seconds (could be cut down for gameplay)

Missile guidance: SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command Line Of Sight) with optical guidance either normal or thermal (TOTE upgrade)

Missile warhead: 0.4kg of explosives in a 1.4kg warhead with both blast and fragmentation versions

Missile ceiling: 3000m (5000m for Mk.2 missiles)

Missile range: 7000m (+15-20% for Mk.2 missiles)

Missile speed: Mach 2 (Mach 2.5 for Mk.2 missiles)

Missile weight: 42.6kg (45kg for Mk.2 missiles)

Defences: 18 smoke grenade launchers, 10 front, 8 back split between the corners of the vehicle

Radar: 15km pulse-doppler search radar with IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) system rotating at 60 RPM


Final photo for you, you can see how the commander and gunner don’t really get windows.

SOURCES:

Lucrative deal article (warning: lots of ads) https://www.forbes.com/sites/pauliddon/2020/09/07/will-britain-follow-in-americas-footsteps-and-repay-iran-for-undelivered-military-hardware/?sh=d9db90a1600f

https://en.missilery.info/missile/rapier2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapier_(missile)#Tracked_Rapier

https://en.missilery.info/missile/rapier-tlrv

https://www.army-technology.com/projects/jernas/

https://www.armyrecognition.com/british_united_kingdom_missile_systems_vehicles_uk/rapier_low_level_ground_surface_to_air_missile_technical_data_sheet_specifications_pictures_video.html

http://www.armedforces.co.uk/army/listings/l0120.html

https://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.php?armor_id=1135

https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/lc14/the-littlefield-collection/lots/r0077-rcm-748-tracked-rapier-weapons-carrier/574518

https://weaponsparade.com/weapon/tracked-rapier/

Thanks for reading, I really tried my best but there is still so much I’ve missed and some of the specifications still seem off but I think you get the general gist of the vehicle and the weapon system.

20 Likes

I’ve wanted this for ages. Absolutely MUST be added! +1

5 Likes

Desperatly needed for the uk as i mean stormer pretty useless vs jets atm

3 Likes

+1 very cool

1 Like

A literal must add for the tree +1

1 Like

The fact it’s not already in the tree is insane. Needs to be in the game +1!

2 Likes

+1 This and the sky sabre would be two excellent additions to the british tree

1 Like

+1 Rapier was integral to UK mobile air defence and was actually in service unlike Skink, Falcon, and Marksman.

2 Likes

Should have been in the game years ago, personally I’d folder it with the stormer if i remember correctly they both have a 7km range, so should fix in nicely

2 Likes

It might go between the stormer and the marksman. Maybe in 9.0- 9.7 BR

Tho, it definitely needs to be in the game

6 Likes

Brits have no IR missiles at all rn

4 Likes

+1 Would be a welcome addition for Britain. Would give people a nice option for something perhaps a little more versatile than the mainly anti-heli Stormer, or even a solid AA at a lower BR than it.

1 Like

Definitely a +1 but Christ never have I read a worse title

1 Like

I “aim” to please

3 Likes

Redeemed

1 Like

The missile range is listed at a max of 8200 m

1 Like

We even have a Recoilless gun either. Even tho we strapped some to the back of land rovers lol

2 Likes

Land Rovers, LR Lightweights, FV432, Ferret, Austin Champ, we had a lot of RR platforms. Would love to see some ingame!

1 Like

I was wondering if anyone had recommended this and since you have I congratulate you. However, I want two versions one with the downgraded missile and another for 11.0 +1.

2 Likes

should have been added years ago

3 Likes