Thales and Nexter to Equip French Navy Ships with a New Generation of Artillery
(Source: Thales; issued Oct 27, 2020)
Originally developed over a decade ago by Nexter and BAE Systems, the CTAI 40mm automatic gun has been selected by the French Navy as a point-defense weapon for its surface combatants; initial deliveries are scheduled for 2022. (Thales image)
Naval forces are exposed to several threats with complex behaviours, such as unmanned air and surface vehicles, light aircraft and missiles. RAPIDFire leverages the combined expertise of Thales and Nexter to meet the very short-range defence requirements of the armed forces.

The solution features a latest-generation multi-threat (air and surface), multi-environment (land and naval) gun system, with a cost of engagement commensurate with the value of the threats.

RAPIDFire is a gun system that offers high precision thanks to its optronic fire control system integrated onto the turret, its advanced algorithms, powerful gun and automatic ammunition management system allowing the best reactivity and efficiency for the operator.

RAPIDFire incorporates the new reference medium calibre 40 mm gun developed by CTAI, the international subsidiary of Nexter Systems and BAE Systems. The system is compatible with the full range of ammunitions developed for land forces programmes and is predisposed to the use of future ammunition as the smart Anti Aerial Airburst (A3B) round.

Nexter and Thales formed a temporary consortium for RAPIDFire as part of a work programme and roadmap put in place 10 years ago. The programme is currently in the development phase. When development is complete, the weapon systems will enter production, and the first delivery is scheduled for 2022.

Developed in a surface-to-air approach allowing use at sea but also from land, the project also provides an option to prepare for future use on land carriers. RAPIDFire, a true joint solution, will thus be a gun system capable of equipping naval, land and air forces.

“We’re delighted to be supporting the French Navy as it enhances the self-defence capabilities of its warships. With its combination of fast-into-action time and firing accuracy, RAPIDFire, developed in cooperation with Nexter, provides the best response for protecting Navy vessels against modern threats. It has the potential to become a key component of our offering of advanced force protection solutions,” Thomas Got, Vice-President Integrated Airspace-protection Systems, Thales.

"The 40 CTA has unrivalled power and compactness, making it a gun system that is particularly suitable for protecting surface vessels. With RAPIDFire, Nexter is delighted to extend the CTA40's range of use in cooperation with Thales and the French Navy," Michel Vatrey, Systems and Programmes Director, Nexter.


Nexter, the leading French land defence company and third-largest European player in the ammunition sector, is part of the KNDS Group. The scope of its business includes the supply of weapon systems and munitions for air and naval forces. Nexter also provides systems and protection solutions in the field of homeland security. Nexter’s 2019 turnover amounted to €1.1 billion, of which 16% is allocated to Research and Development activities.

Thales is a global high technology leader investing in digital and “deep tech” innovations –connectivity, big data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum technology. The company provides solutions, services and products that help its customers –businesses, organisations and states – in the defence, aeronautics, space, transportation and digital identity and security markets to fulfil their critical missions, by placing humans at the heart of the decision-making process. With 83,000 employees in 68 countries, Thales generated sales of €19 billion in 2019 (on a basis including Gemalto over 12 months).

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