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Analysis: Skyranger 30 new mobile counter drone weapon system developed by Rheinmetall Germany

In the current geopolitical landscape, the focus on defending national and allied territory and airspace has regained prominence for NATO and the armed forces of partner countries. With the increasing use of drones and other airborne threats, mobile, modular, and scalable ground-based air defense systems have become crucial assets in ensuring the safety and protection of ground forces and critical infrastructure. To respond to these new threats, the German Company Rheinmetall has developed a new mobile counter-drone solution called Skyranger 30. 
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The Skyranger 30's role, designed by Rheinmetall, is to safeguard mobile units in motion and critical stationary infrastructure from aerial threats. (Picture source  Army Recognition)

One such innovative solution presented at ILA 2022 by Rheinmetall is the Skyranger 30. Designed as a hybrid system, the Skyranger 30 can effectively counter a wide range of airborne threats, as in Ukraine. It boasts a unique combination of effectors, including a 30mm automatic cannon, guided missiles, and the potential for a high-energy laser (Skyranger 30 HEL variant). This flexibility allows the system to adapt its response to emerging threats and provide an appropriate level of intensity, all while adhering to legal requirements and minimizing collateral damage.

The Skyranger 30's role is to safeguard mobile units in motion and critical stationary infrastructure from aerial threats. Its versatility, mobility, and adaptability make it a vital asset for modern military operations, where air superiority is of utmost importance. The integration of the system on the Boxer 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle further enhances its agility and rapid deployment capabilities, allowing it to respond swiftly to evolving threats on the battlefield.

Oerlikon Revolver Cannon

A key feature of the Skyranger 30 is its 30mm Oerlikon Revolver Cannon, which boasts a remarkable rate of fire of 1,200 rounds per minute. This, coupled with programmable time-delay ammunition, enables the system to increase the probability of hitting even the smallest aerial targets, making it highly effective in close-range combat scenarios.

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Hel laser system

Rheinmetall's HEL (High-Energy Laser) effectors consist of a laser source and a laser guidance system, both integrated into the vehicle, along with a laser weapon station built into the turret that also serves as a platform for electro-optical sensors. The laser weapon station automatically tracks targets and neutralizes them with a powerful laser beam. This makes the Skyranger 30 HEL capable of effectively defending designated airspace using three different effectors: an automatic cannon, guided missiles, and a high-energy laser, each applied with the appropriate level of intensity.

During live trials, the current technology sample systems for laser weapon systems have successfully achieved laser outputs of 20kW, with the ability to increase this figure to 100kW, which is already a key feature of this technology. The laser weapon station used in the system is equipped with its own sensors to identify and track targets accurately. Rheinmetall has coordinated subassemblies to work harmoniously, ensuring the outstanding beam quality of their laser sources even at high-output levels, enabling precise targeting of the designated objectives. The mechanical design of the carrier platform ensures complete coverage of the assigned airspace. For the first phase of implementation, laser outputs of 20-50 kW are planned.

Various sensors

To ensure complete situational awareness and maximum coverage, the Skyranger 30 A3 is equipped with a comprehensive suite of sensors. These include an integrated 360° 3D AESA reconnaissance radar, an electro-optical omnidirectional sensor, and a Ku-band target tracking radar. This advanced sensor array continuously monitors the surrounding airspace, allowing the Skyranger 30 to autonomously detect and track potential threats, ensuring swift and accurate responses.

For nations like Ukraine, facing drones war, the Skyranger 30 A3 could serve as a critical component in their air defense command and control network. Its ability to protect ground forces on the move and strategic areas all around makes it a valuable asset in safeguarding national territories against emerging airborne threats, including the increasing use of drones in modern warfare.

The Skyranger 30 represents a cutting-edge solution for ground-based air defense in contemporary warfare scenarios. Its hybrid design, combined with an array of advanced effectors and sensors, positions it as a formidable weapon in countering current and future airborne threats. As countries like Ukraine focus on bolstering their air defense capabilities, the Skyranger 30 A3, with its versatility, mobility, and advanced features, may play a significant role in ensuring national security and protecting ground forces from evolving aerial challenges.

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