Defence Forces test new generation air defence system

Irish soldiers have tested a new generation of air defence weaponry in Sweden to ensure the Defence Forces has a “state of the art” system for the next 20 years.

During a four-day exercise, personnel from Artillery Regiments based in Cork and Athlone conducted live firing and simulated training on the RBS 70 and the latest generation of the system, the RBS 70 NG.

“The Defence Forces has operated a Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD), RBS 70 system for over 30 years,” said a spokeswoman for the Defence Forces.

She said the system was upgraded in recent years in order to allow the system meet with current and future capability requirements.

“The upgrade programme will ensure that the system will remain as a state of the art GBAD system for at least the next 15 to 20 years,” she said.

“The purpose of the live firing exercise in Sweden, facilitated by Saab Dynamics and attended by personnel from Artillery Regiments based in Athlone and Cork, was to validate the training and capability of the Defence Forces GBAD personnel.”

The testing took place at Bofors Test Centre in Karlskoga, part of Saab’s business area Dynamics.

The Defence Forces have used the air defence system to protect high profile visits of foreign heads of state and dignitaries.

“The RBS 70 system is a reliable air defence system which is easy to use,” Lieutenant Colonel Noel Murphy told Saab after the testing.

“It has been in service with our army for many years and we have used it in various environments for protection of national events and state visits.”

He added: “Defence Force operators consider it a system which they can rely on no matter the weather conditions or countermeasures.”

As well as simulated training, soldiers fired 10 missiles against aerial and static surface targets.

Eight missiles were fired from the RBS 70 system against both target types and two missiles were fired from the latest generation, the RBS 70 NG, also at both target types.

“The firing was a huge success with great results from the operators engaging the targets,” said Gorgen Johansson, senior vice president and head of Saab’s Dynamics.

“We have been working closely with the Irish Army in supporting their ambition to improve their air defence capability and we will continue doing do in the future.”

The RBS 70 is known as a short-range air defence laster guided missile system.

It is portable and can be attached to vehicles.

Saab said the new generation model has an effective range of 8km, with altitude coverage in excess of 5,000m.

It is also supposed to be suitable for urban terrain as well as tropical, desert and arctic conditions.

The manufacturers said the NG sight has been designed for greater flexibility and modularity. In addition to the Man-Portable Air Defence System configuration, the NG sight unit can be used in remote-controlled or vehicle applications.

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