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British Army GBAD or Ground-Based Air Defence

The ageing Royal Artillery Stormer HVM air defence system, seen here deployed on Operation CABRIT in Estonia in May 2023, is to be replaced by a new platform [© Bob Morrison]

Land GBAD extract from the speech by Defence Procurement Minister James Cartlidge at the 2023 Full Spectrum Air Defence Conference in London:-

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[extract of speech delivered 28 June 2023] “…Russia has proved to be a nation utterly unconstrained by the rules of war or the laws of morality. Whether targeting civilian infrastructure, committing a litany of human rights abuses, or even disregarding their own duty of care to their own people. And so, as the UK’s Defence Procurement Minister I am committed to ensuring that as the threats change so must our responses to them.

“So, today the UK and our allies face a real challenge. We must regrow our capabilities to protect ourselves across air, land and space, and sea. To defend against multiple threats simultaneously. And to do so at pace. Knowing that the dangers we’re facing are no longer evolving over decades but over months. So, our challenge is to make the whole of our UK Defence enterprise more versatile. Imbuing it with the flexibility to counter shifting threats and adjust to new technologies.

“Our Integrated Review refresh and forthcoming Defence Command Paper will set out how we’re going to deliver full spectrum air defence for the 21st century. Thankfully much of this activity is obviously already underway. So, what’s happening?

“On land our Army is modernising its Ground-Based Air Defence to make sure our personnel and allies are much better protected and better connected. Some of you will be familiar with Sky Sabre, our beyond line-of-sight medium range capability. Unprecedented in speed, performance, and target acquisition, so accurate that it can apparently hit a tennis ball sized object travelling at the speed of sound. And it is so agile it can control the flight of 24 missiles simultaneously whilst in flight, guiding them to intercept 24 separate targets.

16th Regiment Royal Artillery soldiers demonstrating Sky Sabre Air defence missile system, November 2021
[Crown Copyright: Sgt Tom Evans]

“Sky Sabre is forecast to reach full operational capability later in the year and we plan to increase the number of our launchers to equip the whole of 16th Regiment Royal Artillery. At the same time, we’re extending our Short-Range High Velocity and Lightweight Multirole missiles until 2035. Otherwise known as Starstreak and Martlet, these world class missiles have received rave reviews in Ukraine where they have proved a potent weapon against fixed wing aircraft, support and attack helicopters and Uncrewed Air Systems and Cruise Missiles. Their Laser Beam riding technology is now highly in demand.

“We’ll be building on these current capabilities to support our armoured and air assault brigade combat teams. Our programme will deliver a new mounted platform – equipped with active sensor radars – to replace our ageing Stormer vehicles for operations in forward areas. We’re also developing kit to counter small air targets such as rockets, missiles, and loitering munitions like the Shahed and Lancet currently used by Russia in Ukraine.

“From late October we will be arming our very high readiness light forces with new weapons to detect and destroy small UAS threats that are prevalent across all modern battlefields. Indeed, interesting to see a lot of that type of kit being promoted in the foyer. Significantly, these are not one-off Urgent Capability requirements. This is enduring capability that can be spirally developed in response to evolving dangers.

In fact, this week I announced that the MoD had placed a framework contract worth up to £20 million with Viking Arms Ltd to procure the SMARTSHOOTER Smart Weapon Sight Fire Control System. Known otherwise as SMASH. It will give any dismounted soldier the ability to achieve a high probability hit against micro and mini–Unmanned Air Vehicles.”

SMARTSHOOTER SMASH C-sUAS sight on SA80A3 under evaluation on Warminster ranges, May 2023
[Crown Copyright: Sgt J Powell]

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