Sky Sabre air defence missile system was recently unveiled at the home of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery.

According to the Army, Sky Sabre is due in service in 2020 and will prove to be a step change in the UK’s air defences, taking it from short to medium range capability.

Speaking yesterday at the unveiling Air Commodore Ian Gale MBE Senior Responsible Officer for the introduction of the system said:

“You are seeing the future here today, you can’t replace like for like in the digital age. This will take the Army from short to medium range, It is a truly integrated air defence system that will be operated both by the Army and the Royal Air Force. It has significant benefits; it’s fast, reliable and trusted.”

According to the accompanying press release, this was the first time that the three principal components of the system had come together; the MBDA launcher that fires the CAMM missile, the Saab radar targeting system, aptly named the giraffe because of its extending neck and the command and the Rafael control electronics suite from which the system is operated.

A host of deals were agreed around the turn of the year but are only now becoming public. This includes award of a contract by the British to the Israeli company to supply a key battlefield command-and-control network for the Sky Sabre system. The main contract award, which the MoD valued at £78 million, was signed in January with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, to develop a battle management, command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (BMC4I) network.

Missile builder MBDA and surveillance radar supplier Saab have also been awarded contracts to integrate other, already ordered, ground-based air-defense system elements into the BMC4I. Rafael, with help from UK partners Babcock, will supply its Modular, Integrated C4I Air & Missile Defense System and associated equipment in a development and manufacture phase likely to be completed around 2020.

Babcock will provide a proportion of UK based activity including: synthetic based test and integration facilities, project management and hardware procurement. The percentage of UK work content on BMC4I is put at 40% with the remainder coming from Israel.


  1. So…. the hardest question of all:
    Just how much exactly does a battery cost?

    It seems that a lot of money and a strangely long time has been invested in delivering a 25KM range SAM system.
    And while this is much better than the mediocre Rapier, I imagine the rest of the world will shrug and look to the cheaper but similarly capable NASAMS or the Russian/Chinese capabilities which are far better

    • Not sure the NASAMS system is better. Even in its latest incarnation it uses ESSM which I think has semi active guidance. Earlier versions in service used AMRAAM. There are better active seekers available now, like the one used in CAMM which eliminate the need for dedicated illumination radars.

      • ESSM block 2 will be available b 2020 and will have an active radar seeker.

        Much better than launching smaller AMRAAMs from the ground.

        It will be faster, greater range and more maneuverability than CAMM and seemingly will be cheaper.

        • Yeh, that’s my understanding too. ESSM block 2 brings the active seeker. Don’t know much about manoeuvrability. Does block 2 have the Aster style ‘piff-paff’ feature?

    • Australia is investing up to $2 billion (1.13 billion pounds) in NASAMS to be operated by the Army’s 16th Air Land Regiment. A single supplier tender was released to Raytheon Australia in the first half of 2017.

      Raytheon Australia will work with Canberra-based CEA Technologies, the suppliers of the ANZAC class frigate’s phased array radar, to integrate their land based CEAFAR Ground Based Multi-Mission Radar (GBMMR).

      The truck mounted mobile active phased array radar system provides 3D air and ground surveillance in a range of environments. The GBMMR has already demonstrated its ability to integrate with other GBAD missile systems.

      In 2014 Diehl Defense successfully integrated CEA’s GBMMR with Rheinmetall’s Oerlikon Sky master battle management system to launch the IRIS-T SLM missile at the Overberg Test Range in South Africa.

      Raytheon will also investigate using Thales Australia’s ‘Hawkei’ protected mobility vehicle as a potential platform for the system’s missile launchers.

      Final project configuration sign off is expected by the ADF in 2019.

  2. I wonder if they’ll do a “public awareness” exercise around the UK when they have them fully operational, like I think they did with Rapier way back? Certainly then I saw a few of them planted around Scotland in full sight, training on targets, which was interesting to watch.

    All the armed forces need to show off their boxes of tricks, to help get and keep the budget – and counteract the more miserable parts of the media. Seeing is believing.

  3. Curious about the Air Commodores words.

    “operated both by the Army and the Royal Air Force”


    This being procured to replace Rapier FSC in 16 Regiment RA, an Army Formation. It and other air defence assets operate under Joint Ground Based Air Defence which is a joint unit with the RAF, but that I believe is just a command umbrella for seamless integration of the Land and Air RAP’s?

    His words imply to me the RAF will also operate the system, when in fact the RAF Regiment was taken out of the Air Defence game in 2004 when the Shorad Squadrons disbanded.

  4. Another question.

    Just how many units are the British Army buying?

    Detail like that is usually buried by the MoD to hide reductions in numbers.

    • Hello again Daniele,
      The answer to your first question is Sabre is the army version, Sea Ceptor to the navy and around the early twenties a replacement for ASRAAM in the RAF, so all three services.
      The phrase used in a report I read was multiple batteries, though that was a while back.

      • Hi Geoff.

        Well 16 RA has 4 plus HQ battery if I recall with 6 Rapier FSC each.

        We should be buying 30 odd then, accounting for spares and units for training.

    • I suspect there won’t even be enough numbers to protect our key UK bases, net alone any expeditionary forces.

      Under modern basing there is a terrifying concentration of talent and equipment. Single site hits with cruise missiles takes out entire capabilities. Not just equipment but entire supply chains and expert personnel.

      Marham – F-35s
      Faslane – SSBNs / Astutes
      Portsmouth – RN escort force / Carriers
      Culdrose – ASW Helo
      Coningsby / Lossiemouth – QRA Typhoons
      Brize Norton – Lift

      I would want to see all these bases properly covered as well as expeditionary force but I fear not…

    • Why are you allowing israelis to compromise our security.

      What you mean like the Chieftain tank? How about Bulldog, Watchkeeper???, Spike-NLOS, our Virtus new body armour or even the brilliant first dressing (Of which I carry two of , when I go mountain biking) finally how about the Iron fist APS which is being tested on the Chally 2
      Google: Challenger 2 trialled with ROSY, Iron Fist APS.

      • What about the Chieftain, Bulldog, etc? And how do field dressings compromise our security? I Googled what you suggested – I would’ve thought improvements to Challenger 2 will improve our security, not compromise it….

        • Mark,
          My post was a reply to Ld Elon and fully supports the Israeli involvement . As for the chieftain during the early 60s, the British Government short of money decided to share development costs with Israel, with a view that they would replace their Centurions (Called Sh’ot) with the newer tank, the improved ballistic protection of the Chieftain is all down to Gen Tal , however the British Government not wanting to offend the Arabs cancelled that deal and instead sold the tank to..Iran and Jordan. The Bulldog is the AFV432 with Israeli armour.

    • A key component of what we are buying is the Israeli software networking and confrol expertise acquired through their proven Iron Dome system. Like Iron Dome Sky Sabre is mobile, modular and networked.

  5. the size of the order is going to be interesting. My guess rake number of rapier in service and halve it, but hoping to be proved wrong.

  6. I’m not an expert on air defence. Can some one explain to me why this sounds a bit limp when compared to the s400 or 300. Are there capabilities I’m missing? Is it like most of NATO we assume we will always have air dominance. If so extremely dangerous.

    • The Russians used to be the only nation in need of such a vast air defence network, the Voyska PVO, as only NATO and primarily the USA with SAC had a bomber force that threatened it. I see that fear continuing with the S400. I think it used to be the SA-10 or SA-12?

      I suppose after decades of air dominance and fighting rag heads in the desert who could not fight back against overwhelming air superiority air defence now has low priority.

      British Army used to have 7 Air Defence Regiments, now only 2.

      If things change it might get more prominence but until then I’d prefer money going on stuff still relevant and really needed – carriers, ASW, MPA, ISTAR, Chinooks, etc.

  7. I suspect that we are not getting just a 25km rabge system as ASRAAM in tests has done much more. The new missile is bassed on ASRAAM.

    However we should have bought a land based Sea Viper with better rabge. Or even the Sea Ceptor Italian ER missile.

    Once again we have not got value for money.

  8. kinda shame we didn’t invest in camm-er and I am guessing the saber is not designed for the potential upgrade in the future. Doubling the range of the missile would have massively increased the capability. They are already not helicopter liftable and so that capacity goes with rapier, so a little larger base unit doesn’t seem like a big problem, unless it would have hit airlift options in the a400.

    • As I understand it CAMM-ER is identical to CAMM, same seeker and motor etc except that it has a kind of ‘first stage’ booster for extra range. So it just needs longer launch tubes and that’s it.

  9. So,perhaps we can ignore the fact that Isreal is an apartheid state built on theft and ethnic cleansing.
    The fact is that they are not our friends. No nation was keener to air freight weapons to the Argentineans during the Falklands war

    • They are a smart people living on a permanent war footing. They make good weapons. And fhey are the only democracy in the middle east. We should give them some slack.

      • They are not a democracy,if all the residents were allowed to return to their stolen homes ,Isreal would cease to exist.

        • Thank you for mentioning that it is the PALESTINIANS who are genocidal.
          Every one in Israel who is eighteen may vote. Defeated enemies are manifestly NOT welcomed back by a sane human being. Stolen? Military victory was the accepted way of resolving territorial disputes for most of mankind’s history. Allowing idiots who clearly favor terrorists who destroy your nation to decide your fate is both a new and repulsive idea. Why would any country with an ounce of self-respect and pride allow detestable foreigners determine right and wrong? Especially when they come from countries that have again and again taken actions that by any measure list them as the enemy.

          • I think that you have just exposed yourself as a nasty little racist.The similarity between the gazza strip where the Palestinians were herded following ethnic cleansing and the Nazi Jewish ghettos is striking.

          • There is no limit to Isreali greed and hatred for the UK,just look at the list of kit they shipped to Argentina. Fortunately most of it didn’t arrive in time.

  10. Surely it would be far better to tow the radar unit and separate the emitter from the rest of the system to improve survabilty.

  11. It is gonna be very good a replacement for rapier SAM, which good move but we lack long range defences since we retired bloodhound. Which my concern of British lack long ranges missiles SAM

    I would like see British army restored defence for long range ie:- NASAMS systems with METEOR (MK2) with booster missiles. It is will more cost effective if we buy more METEOR (MK2) for ground and air long range missiles, METEOR MK 2 Which based on British and Japanese project, new AESA seeker and new minor modifications shape.

    Or go for Aster 30 block 2 /aster 45 anti icbm defence with long range anti air defence to more fund it so can cost effective for upgrade aster 30 in destroyer type 45 also in land versions.

    If we add long range defences will put Russian more fears to our air defence.

  12. Grubbing being grubby, denting Israel’s right to exist. Anti-Semitic, much?

    There has been a Jewish presence in that part of the world for many THOUSANDS of years. Not quite sure why Arabs from Saudi Arabia and Muslims worldwide have more of a legitimate claim to Israel than the Jewish people; the Jewish people are only a few thousands of years older than Islam, after all.

  13. Grubbie being grubby, denying Israel’s right to exist. Anti-Semitic, much?

    There has been a Jewish presence in that part of the world for many THOUSANDS of years. Not quite sure why Arabs from the Arabian peninsula and Muslims worldwide – remember, their claim on Israel is a religious one – have more of a legitimate claim to Israel than the Jewish people; the Jewish people are only a few thousands of years older than Islam, after all.


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