According to revelations from the Dutch publication, De Telegraaf, the United States is said to be making a significant purchase from Jordan. Our reliable sources in the Netherlands suggest that Washington is about to acquire ‘armored personnel carriers with anti-aircraft guns,’ with the deal potentially costing around 110 million euros.
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“In an impressive move, the United States has purchased armored personnel carriers capable of handling anti-aircraft guns from Jordan for Ukraine, spending around 110 million euros. Strikingly, these same Gepard armored vehicles were sold to Jordan by the Netherlands back in 2013 for a seemingly trifling price of 21 million euros. Clearly, the geopolitical landscape has significantly evolved.”
The number of Gepard SPAAGs the US is purchasing from Jordan wasn’t specified by De Telegraaf. Nonetheless, estimates from Russian sources hint at a figure of around 60 units.
It’s currently unclear what state the decommissioned Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns [SPAAGs] are in, particularly considering they have been resold twice already. This is all the more relevant given the meticulous maintenance practices of the Jordanian armed forces.
So, it turns out that the Osa-AK air defense systems and anti-aircraft missiles, originally sold to Armenia and subsequently transferred to Ukraine, are in an exceptionally poor technical state and continue to exhibit subpar performance.
About Gepard SPAAG
The Gepard SPAAG, also known as the Flakpanzer Gepard, is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system developed by Germany in the 1960s. It was primarily designed to provide air defense for armored units on the battlefield.
The Gepard SPAAG is equipped with a twin 35mm Oerlikon KDA autocannon system, which is capable of firing up to 550 rounds per minute. The autocannons are highly effective against low-flying aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs]. The Gepard SPAAG also features a radar and fire control system, allowing it to track and engage multiple targets simultaneously.
SPAAG engine and armor
The Gepard SPAAG is powered by an MTU MB 838 CaM 500 V8 turbocharged diesel engine, which generates 830 horsepower. This engine provides the vehicle with a maximum road speed of 65 kilometers per hour [40 mph]. Its range of approximately 550 kilometers [340 miles]. The engine is known for its reliability and durability, making the Gepard SPAAG suitable for extended operations in various terrains and weather conditions.
The Gepard SPAAG has a well-designed armor protection system to enhance its survivability on the battlefield. The hull and turret are constructed with welded steel plates, providing protection against small arms fire, shell fragments, and some anti-tank weapons. The vehicle’s frontal armor can withstand hits from 23mm armor-piercing rounds, while the sides and rear offer lower levels of protection. Additionally, the Gepard SPAAG is equipped with NBC [nuclear, biological, and chemical] protection systems, ensuring the crew’s safety in contaminated environments.
SPAAG operational range
The operational range of the Gepard SPAAG depends on various factors such as terrain, speed, and fuel capacity. With a full tank of fuel, the vehicle can travel approximately 550 kilometers [340 miles] on roads. However, off-road conditions and higher speeds may reduce the range.
The Gepard SPAAG is designed to operate alongside armored units and can be transported by rail, road, or air to different locations, allowing it to be deployed wherever air defense is required.
SPAAG in Ukraine – the ammunition
In response to the 2022 Russian invasion, Ukraine employed the Gepard in its defense strategy. The inaugural trio of Gepard units arrived on Ukrainian soil on July 25, 2022. However, a test run revealed a snag—ammunition supplied from Norway was found incompatible with the Gepard, resulting in failed firing. Consequently, a retest was lined up in the following month, August 2022, this time with an upgraded batch of ammunition.
As of September 20, 2022, there have been thirty Gepards and a whopping 6,000 rounds delivered. The Ukrainian Armed Forces indicate that by September 26, 2022, they had accumulated approximately 50,000 rounds of ammunition, commendably made in Norway, for the Gepard.
Intriguing photographic evidence, sourced from the popular German tabloid, Bild, showcases Gepard being handled by a Ukrainian crew. Particularly eye-catching are the high-explosive incendiary [HEI] rounds, marked with a distinctive yellow projectile and a red band, courtesy of the esteemed Norwegian manufacturer, Nammo.
SPAAG vs UAVs and missiles
A Ukrainian defense attaché situated in the United States asserts that the Gepard has proven immensely effective against what is assumed to be the Shahed-136, a fairly rudimentary loitering munition thought to originate from Iran.
It’s likely, according to the Conflict Intelligence Team, that a Gepard took out a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile aimed at a Kyiv power plant on October 18, 2022. They’ve credited one unit with successfully neutralizing more than ten Shahed-136 drones and two cruise missiles. Systems like these prove to be more efficient and cost-effective compared to more advanced and pricier air defense technologies such as NASAMS or IRIS-T missiles. Additionally, they are less politically sensitive due to their limited effective range.
Lancet destroyed the first SPAAG
In a statement by the Royal United Services Institute [RUSI], a respected think tank based in London, they mitigated that, generally, gun systems are favored over missiles due to their comparatively lower engagement cost and the ready availability of ammunition, in contrast with Surface-to-Air Missiles [SAMs] and Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems [MANPADS].
They indicated a notable incident in Ukraine, in April of 2023, where the country reportedly experienced its maiden loss of a Gepard to a Lancet loitering munition. Despite the insinuated damage, the full video reveals that the Gepard remained fairly unscathed post-impact.
As of December 2, Germany has reclaimed seven more Gepard tanks from the brink of obsoletion, sprucing them up to be dispatched to Ukraine. This enhances the total count of tanks designated for Ukraine to 37. You can anticipate the arrival of these armored vehicles by the spring of 2023.
Ammo is a challenge
Getting ammunition is quite a challenge since Switzerland, with its principle of neutrality, refuses to enable Germany to tap into its reserves. They also declined to provide their extra stock, compelling Germany to seek other sources for ammunition.
However, on December 15, Rheinmetall took a detour around the Swiss ban on re-exports by committing to a new factory within Germany’s borders. In February 2023, they signed a deal to initiate production and by September 2023, the first consignment of this newly created ammunition was shipped off to Ukraine.
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