In 1964, the British Ministry of Defense issued specifications for a new antiaircraft missile system against high speed low-flying aircrafts. The system had to be small and lightweight with a handy missile, so British Aircraft Corporation opted for a manual optical guidance, that did not need an illuminating radar, and allowed a smaller missile. The explosive charge was only 1.4 kg, because with its guide system, the missile hit directly on the target and did not need proximity fuses or a huge warhead. The missile was named Rapier and its production began in 1969 after successful firing tests. This system is composed by a Decca surveillance doppler radar, an IFF, a radar transmitter-receiver, an engagement zone selector, an optical tracker and the 4 missiles. It entered service in 1974 and since then has been modified and improved becoming a vital part of the British air defense and will remain in service at least until 2020.

RAPIER gallery and more info


Información adicional

Ficha Completa
Country of origin

United Kingdom


British Aircraft Corporation / BAe Dynamics


Surface-to-air missile

Entered service


System weight

Launcher: 1,227 kg – Blindfire Radar: 1,186 kg

Dimensions (length x width x height)

Launcher: 4.06 x 1.77 x 2.13 meters – Blindfire radar: 4.14 x 1.75 x 2.03 meters

Missile/bomb dimensions, (length x diameter)

2.23 x 0.13 meters

Missile/bomb weight

Mk.1: 42.60 kg – Mk.2: 45 kg

Missile speed

Mk.1: Mach 2 (2,450 km/h) – Mk.2: Mach 2.5 (3,062 km/h)

Missile range

Mk.1: 6.5 km – 3,000 meteres ceiling – Mk.2: 8.2 km – 5,000 meteres ceiling

Guidance system

Semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS)

Warhead, (explosive charge)

Weight: 1.40 kg – Type: HE fragmentation


600 launchers – 25,000 missiles