THE MoD has announced a £36m contract to explore what capabilities a land version of an air defence system could offer the UK armed forces The future local area air defence system (FLAADS) is a ground-based missile system whose missiles can travel at 1,000 metres per second and is able to simultaneously defend UK territories against a number of threats, including jets or cruise missiles travelling at supersonic speeds.
The MoD says the system “will replace the army’s current air defence system, Rapier, which was used to defend London during the 2012 Olympic Games, has been in service since 1996 and is coming to the end of its service life”.
Despite what the MoD says, the first Rapier entered service in 1971 and was deployed, with very limited success, in the Falklands conflict in 1982. It has been updated but remains the UK's primary air-defence weapon after almost 35 years of service, and its deployment is expected to continue until 2020. The current Rapier version is a direct follow-on from the original version.