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Rheinmetall from Germany Unveils Leopard 2 Skyranger to Replace Old Gepard Air Defense System in Ukraine.

At Eurosatory 2024, the premier defense exhibition held in Paris, France, Rheinmetall, the renowned German defense company, unveiled a groundbreaking mobile air defense system. Utilizing the chassis of the Leopard 2 tank, this new system integrates the advanced Skynex air defense technology, marking a significant enhancement in counter-drone capabilities. This development is poised to replace the older Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft gun systems currently deployed in Ukraine, offering a more modern and effective solution to contemporary aerial threats.
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Rheinmetall from Germany unveils its new mobile air defense system based on a Leopard 2 tank chassis fitted with a turret armed with a 35mm automatic cannon. (Picture source: Army Recognition Group)

This advanced air defense vehicle is based on the tracked chassis of the Leopard 2 tank and is armed with a KDG 35/1000 revolver cannon, capable of firing 35 mm x 228 caliber rounds at an impressive rate of 1,000 rounds per minute. The Skyranger 35 system boasts an effective range of up to 4,000 meters and shares high commonality with the Oerlikon Revolver Gun Mk 3. Notably, the Skyranger 35 is capable of airburst functionality due to AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction) technology, enhancing its effectiveness against aerial threats.

The Sky Skyranger 35 is a state-of-the-art air defense system that offers significant advantages, particularly when equipped with the KDG 35/1000 revolver cannon. This cannon is notable for its high rate of fire, capable of discharging up to 1000 rounds per minute, which provides a formidable response to fast-moving aerial threats including drones, missiles, and aircraft. The precision and rapid firing capability of the KDG 35/1000 make it a powerful tool in neutralizing a variety of aerial threats efficiently.

Additionally, the Sky Skyranger 35 is equipped with advanced targeting systems that enhance its effectiveness. These systems allow for accurate tracking and engagement of targets, even in complex combat scenarios. This technological sophistication ensures that the Skyranger 35 can operate effectively in diverse and challenging environments, providing reliable protection.

Compared to the Gepard air defense vehicle, the Sky Skyranger 35 represents a more modern and technologically advanced solution. The Gepard, though effective in its time, is an older system based on a modified tank chassis and armed with twin 35mm Oerlikon GDF autocannons. While the Gepard has proven its worth in past engagements, the Skyranger 35 benefits from the latest advancements in fire control and automation, allowing for quicker and more accurate responses to threats.

Moreover, the Skyranger 35 is designed with mobility in mind. It can be integrated into various platforms, including wheeled and tracked vehicles, enhancing its deployment flexibility. This contrasts with the Gepard, which, being based on a tank chassis, is heavier and less versatile in terms of mobility and integration onto different platforms.

In summary, the Sky Skyranger 35 with the KDG 35/1000 revolver cannon offers advanced firepower, superior targeting technology, and greater flexibility compared to the older Gepard air defense vehicle. These features make it a more effective and adaptable solution for modern air defense needs.

The Skyranger 35 is not just a current solution, but a future-proof one. It is designed to accommodate modern guided missiles, a testament to its adaptability and potential for future upgrades. This ensures that the system remains relevant and effective against evolving threats. The Skyranger 35 system is particularly suited for mobile, accompanying air defense for heavy armored formations, providing robust protection in dynamic combat environments.

Rheinmetall's strategic move of integrating these advanced air defense systems into the Leopard 2 chassis, showcased at Eurosatory 2024, underscores the company's commitment to innovation and addressing modern defense challenges. This integration enhances mobility and survivability on the battlefield, making the Skyranger 35 a valuable asset for military forces looking to modernize their air defense capabilities.

The Gepard Air Defense System: Entered service in 1976, this robust anti-aircraft vehicle is equipped with twin 35mm Oerlikon KDA autocannons, designed to protect against aerial threats. (Picture source Army Recognition Group)

The Ukrainian army recently received the Skynex air defense system from Germany. This advanced system utilizes the Oerlikon Revolver Gun® Mk3, a 35mm automatic turret similar to the one fitted on the Leopard tanks. Integrating this turret into the Leopard tanks with the Sky Skyranger 35 could significantly enhance Ukraine's air defense capabilities.

The new Leopard tanks equipped with the Sky Skyranger 35 would complement the Skynex air defense system by leveraging the same cutting-edge technology. This system synergy would streamline maintenance, training, and operational efficiency. Utilizing a consistent technology base across different platforms ensures that the Ukrainian military can effectively counter various aerial threats with a cohesive and robust air defense strategy.

Incorporating the Sky Skyranger 35 on Leopard tanks means that these vehicles would serve their traditional armored warfare roles and act as highly mobile air defense units. This dual capability enhances the overall flexibility and responsiveness of the Ukrainian armed forces, allowing for rapid adaptation to evolving battlefield scenarios.

With the adoption of the Sky Skyranger 35 and its integration with the Leopard tanks, the Ukrainian army is making a strategic move to fortify its defense infrastructure. This decision is set to establish a more secure and resilient posture against aerial threats, underscoring the value of technological uniformity in enhancing operational effectiveness and strategic readiness.

Germany has already delivered to Ukraine two Skynex air defense systems. (Picture source Army Recognition Group)

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