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RBS 70 Short-Range Anti-Aircraft Missile

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The RBS 70 short-range anti-aircraft missile is operational with the Swedish Armed Forces and has also been exported to 18 countries worldwide, including Australia, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Latvia Norway, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Tunisia and the UAE.

The RBS 70 missile can be operated independently in stand-alone mode or can be configured with several firing units linked with a surveillance radar to form an anti-aircraft battery. The truck-mounted Giraffe land mobile radar developed by Ericsson (now Saab Microwave Systems) can be linked to nine RBS 70 firing posts. Typically 4km apart, the firing posts protect an area of 175km². The target data, including range, bearing and velocity, is transmitted to each designated missile firing post.

The RBS 70 system entered service in 1977 with the Mk 1 missile. Current production model is the Mk 2. The Bolide missile is a further development of the Mk 2 with a new sustainer rocket motor, which increases missile speed and manoeuvrability. Bolide was ordered by Australia in 2003 with a follow-on order in April 2004.

RBS 70 anti-aircraft missile orders and deliveries

The RBS 70 was ordered by the Latvian Air Force in November 2004. Deliveries were made in 2006 and 2007.

Also in November 2004, a number of RBS 70 systems were handed over by Norway to Lithuania, free of charge. In December 2004, the Czech Republic placed an order for RBS 70 with the Bolide missile.

Finland placed an order for the RBS 70 missile system in January 2007. Deliveries began in 2008.

The Finnish Army signed a $35.5m contract with Ericsson (now Saab Microwave Systems) for further deliveries of the RBS 70 ground-based air defence system in January 2010.

The Latvian Ministry of Defence placed an order for RBS 70 missiles in September 2016. Deliveries are scheduled to conclude in 2017.

Saab received an order from the Brazilian Army in March 2017 for the delivery of RBS 70 VSHORAD missile systems by 2018. The Brazilian Army also awarded a contract for additional weapon systems in October 2017.

The Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania awarded two orders worth $15.35m in August 2018 improved RBS 70 missiles and BORC night-capability sights for delivery by 2019.

RBS 70 anti-aircraft missile

The basic RBS 70 comprises the missile in a launch container, a tripod firing stand and an optical sight. It is operable by one, and portable by three persons.

“The RBS 70 anti-aircraft missile has a laser beam detector mounted at the back of the missile.”

The missile is equipped with a solid propellant booster motor developed by Bofors and a solid propellant sustainer motor by BAE Systems Land Systems (Royal Ordnance) and Imperial Metal Industries. When the operator fires the missile, the booster motor is ignited inside the launch tube and the missile is accelerated out of the tube. The control surfaces and the four fins open into position as the missile leaves the tube. The sustainer motor ignites after the missile has travelled a safe distance from the launch position. The booster is subsequently jettisoned.

RBS 70 night sight

A Saab Vectronics (now FLIR Systems) close loop cooled COND (Clip-On Night Device) operating in the 8 micron to 12 micron infrared band gives the system day and night capability. COND has a 12° x 8° field of view.

Saab Bofors Dynamics has placed an order with FLIR Systems for a new clip-on night sight for the RBS 70 called BORC. BORC is based on Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector (QWIP) thermal-imaging technology.

RBS 70 missile system operation

The RBS 70 has laser beam riding guidance, riding a laser signal being beamed from its own launch station, rather than being guided from the front towards the reflected signal from a laser designated target.

A hostile target can be located visually by the missile operator or the target can be detected by a search radar. When the target is acquired, the operator tracks the target and the Raytheon Cossor IFF880 friend or foe system interrogates the target. If a friendly target is detected, a warning light in the sight is illuminated and the firing sequence is halted. The operator aims the missile towards the target, fires and tracks the target, aiming a laser guidance beam continuously at the target until the moment of impact.

“A hostile target can be located visually by the RBS 70 missile operator or the target can be detected by a search radar.”

The RBS 70 missile has a laser beam detector mounted at the back of the missile which detects the laser guidance beam.

The outputs from the laser beam detectors in the tail of the missile are used by an onboard processor to generate the steering and course correction signals to the missile control fins. The missile’s flight is gyroscopically stabilised.

The missile has no seeker head at the front of the missile and the laser beam riding system in the tail of the missile is extremely difficult to jam.

If the missile loses the laser beam or if no guidance signals are received after a predetermined period of time during missile flight the missile switches to self-destruct mode.

The missile is armed with a 1.1kg fragmented warhead fitted with a Saab Bofors laser proximity fuse and an impact fuse.

RBS 70 Mk 1+ anti-aircraft missile

The RBS 70 Mk 1+ missile was developed for the Swedish Army and is fitted with an enhanced capability laser seeker with an expanded field of view. A 30% increase in the engagement envelope results from the 57° field of view (compared to 40° in the mk 1 variant). Where a crossing target is being engaged, the wider field of view allows a wider angle between the missile flight path and the laser guidance beam.

RBS 70 Mk 2 anti-aircraft missile

The Mk 2 missile has a 100% increase in area coverage compared to the Mk 1. The Mk 2 version incorporates a smaller digital electronic control unit, a larger sustainer motor and a heavier warhead, providing an increased speed of 590m/s and range of 7km, with improved armour penetration characteristics.

The warhead is 50% heavier and incorporates fragmentation pellets and a shaped hollow charge for armour penetration against armoured helicopter targets.

Bolide anti-aircraft missile

The Bolide missile is a development of the RBS 70 Mk 2. It has a maximum speed of more than Mach 2, faster than the RBS 70 which has a speed of Mach 1.6.

“The RSB 70 is armed with a 1.1kg fragmented warhead.”

The Bolide missile design incorporates a number of new systems including a fibre-optic gyroscope, an adaptable proximity fuse that provides all-target capability and a high kill probability against small and dark targets as well as a new sustainer rocket motor with an improved performance propellant and new electronics. The new motor gives the missile a shorter time of flight and higher manoeuvrability than the RBS 70.

The new compact reprogrammable electronics suite installed in the missile allows the system to be easily upgraded with new software. The missile is primarily for air defence with a maximum intercept altitude at more than 5,000m, but it can also be deployed against surface targets. It has a range of 250m to 8,000m.

Reprinted from 2017-2018 with permission of Copyright 2017-2018. All rights reserved.

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