Skynex | Rheinmetall’s anti-aircraft system of special interest to the National Guard
Defence Redefined
Published on 29/01/2023 at 14:58

*Christos Loizou

DEFENCE ReDEFiNED attended the 20th Defence Talks 2022 conference of the German company Rheinmetall, held in December 2022 in Berlin.

Journalists specialising in defence affairs from all over Europe including Greece and Cyprus (participation of DEFENCE ReDEFiNED) were invited to the conference to be informed about the company’s systems and the current status of ongoing programs. Among the topics covered at the conference were Rheinmetall’s anti-aircraft systems with a primary emphasis on the Skynex system, which, as analysed below, is of particular interest to the National Guard.

The company, studying data from the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nagorno Karabakh and Ukraine, concluded that short-range air defence capabilities are necessary in the modern theatre of operations to protect critical infrastructure and forces on the ground.

The Skynex system is based on a modular and network-centric structure with interconnection capabilities involving a number of other systems. In its basic configuration, it features an Oerlikon AESA X-TAR3D radar, four 35mm Oerlikon Revolver Gun Mk 3 guns (with an independent fire control centre per unit) and a CN-1 control centre, while it can integrate an additional multispectral sensor (MSU), electronic warfare systems and ELT (Electronica Group) jammers to counter drones. In addition, a wide range of other effectors (including legacy ones) can be integrated to the system, such as the towed twin Oerlikon GDF 009 guns (EO with electro-optical system and TREO with EO and additional Targeting Radar), RG Mk 2 cannons, 20-30 kW Oerlikon HEL laser and missiles, such as RIM-7 (of the Hellenic Air Force VELOS system) or the National Guard’s ASPIDE 2000.

Skynex can detect, engage and neutralise aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles, short-range missiles and mortars, while in an upgraded version with expanded capabilities it can counter precision guided munitions, medium- and long-range artillery rounds and saturation attacks.

Also read: Favourable opinion on the Navy’s PHALANX and the “VELOS” weapon system of the Hellenic Air Force – VIDEO

Rheinmetall announced on December 9, 2022 that it will supply an unnamed “international customer” with two Skynex anti-aircraft systems worth 182 million euros and two HX trucks worth 12 million euros. The delivery is expected to take place in 2024. On the same day, the German website Handelsblatt reported that the specific order concerns Ukraine without this being confirmed by the company.

The Qatari Armed Forces released in October 2022 a related VIDEO from the “Shield 6” exercise depicting the Skynex system acquired in a configuration including eight Oerlikon RG Mk 3 guns and one X-TAR3D radar. According to the company’s announcement in 2019, the order from Qatar amounts to 210 million euros.

The MSU sensor system, with a detection range of up to 30 km, provides next-generation airborne target detection and identification capabilities (VSHORAD) with a Radar Cross Section (RCS) of 1m2. The CN-1 control centre allows the operator to control up to two simultaneous target engagements with enhanced automated procedures to reduce operator workload.

The X-TAR3D 3D radar, which provides the data to obtain targeting and engagement commands, also provides RAM target detection capabilities as well as a new generation of aerial target identification (IFF – Identification Friend or Foe) capabilities.

Oerlikon X-TAR3D Technical Features:

  • Range: 25-50 km
  • Engagement range: 35 km (1.5 seconds – 50 degrees)
  • Surveillance range: 50 km (3 seconds – 25 degrees)
  • Detection and Warning range: 25 km (1 second – 70 degrees)
  • Vertical phased array antenna

The armament of the Skynex – as mentioned above – may include, in addition to the RG Mk3 or MK2 cannons, twin Oerlikon GDF 009 EO or TREO 35 mm cannons, both of which are capable of using Oerlikon Ahead® type air-burst ammunition. The 35 mm (35mm x 228) AHEAD round features real time muzzle base programming via induction coils and detonates at a predetermined distance from the target dispersing 152 tungsten sub-projectiles.

Also read: Ahead® ammunition and the prospect of upgrading “OTHELLOS” for the National Guard | Photos & VIDEO

Oerlikon Mk3 Technical Features:

  • Calibre: 35 mm
  • Number of Barrels: 1
  • Effective range: 4 km
  • Rate of fire: 1000 rounds / minute
  • Truck Mounted or Hook-liftable platform
  • Integrated tracking sensor unit

(Ku-band tracking radar KuTRG, HDIR camera, HDTV camera, 2x laser range finder)

  • C-RAM capability

GDF009 TREO Technical characteristics:

  • Calibre: 35 mm
  • Number of Barrels: 2
  • Rate of fire: 1100 rounds / minute
  • Ready to fire: 280 shells (112 in readiness – 168 in automatic reloaders)
  • Integrated tracking sensor unit (Ku-band tracking radar KuTRG, HDIR camera, HDTV camera, 2x laser range finder)
  • Battery-based power supply
  • Towed

Rheinmetall announced on January 10, 2023 that it entered into an agreement with an unnamed “international customer” to upgrade Oerlikon GDF 009 35mm guns to support Ahead ammunition, along with additional Skyguard fire control centre equipment, at a price reported as a low three-digit million euro figure. Work on the upgrade will begin immediately within 2023.

In an earlier announcement in July 2022, the company announced that it had reached an agreement with an unnamed customer for the supply of the Skyguard 3 anti-aircraft system, at a price of 65 million euros, including the supply of Ahead ammunition.

The special interest for the National Guard

During the conference in Berlin, we had the opportunity to talk with Rheinmetall executives, who confirmed that a similar proposal to upgrade the “OTHELLOS” air defence system has been made to the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus and the National Guard.

Also read: “TALOS-2/2022” – Air defence exercise with French Rafales and National Guard’s anti-aircraft systems

The German company’s proposal includes upgrading the Oerlikon GDF-003 35 mm guns that the National Guard has on the OTHELLOS system to support Ahead ammunition, along with upgrading the fire control centre to Skyguard 5 which is a cheaper option compared to the Skynex supply. The cost is estimated to be in the low three-digit million range.

For a detailed analysis regarding the “OTHELLOS” anti-aircraft system of the National Guard, click the link below.

Also read: “OTHELLOS” SHORAD System | The tireless “guardian” of the Cyprus Skies




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