Germany fills critical air defense gap by purchasing Skyranger 30

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To bolster their mobile air defense capabilities, the German military has struck a deal with Rheinmetall. This news comes with the announcement of a contract to manufacture the extremely advanced Skyranger 30 mobile anti-aircraft system for the Bundeswehr. 

Photo credit: Reddit

The city of Berlin is set to receive the initial production prototype of the Skyranger 30 by the end of the year. After its arrival, Rheinmetall is assigned the task of constructing 18 of these cutting-edge systems for delivery to the army. As a noteworthy footnote, Rheinmetall revealed that the contract includes an option for the acquisition of an additional 30 mobile anti-aircraft systems. With a substantial sum of $644 million [€595 million] riding on the deal, the contract unquestionably represents a significant investment in security.

What does Germany currently use?

It’s well-known that the German Army possesses portable anti-aircraft systems. However, these systems are aging and aren’t as efficient at dealing with the modern air threats we face today. Take, for instance, LeFlaSys [or Leichte Flugabwehrsystem, often referred to as Ozelot]. Mounted on a Wiesel-2 tracked vehicle, LeFlaSys was designed to combat low-flying aircraft and helicopters. Its efficacy, however, is gradually diminishing. 

Not to be overlooked is MANTIS [an acronym for Modular, Automatic, and Networked Targeting and Intercepting System], the state-of-the-art air defense technology of the German army. Specifically designed for short-range air defense during active operations – both in forward areas and in the rear – MANTIS has proven a reliable shield for troops and critical assets from a wide spectrum of threats. These threats encompass missiles, artillery, and even mortars. 

Lastly, there’s ASRAD-R [or the Advanced Short Range Air Defense System – RBS 70]. Installed on a Bv 410 tracked vehicle, this missile system’s main purpose is to protect moving units and fixed installations from low-flying aircraft and helicopters. It is highly acclaimed for its exceptional performance even under adverse weather conditions.

Photo credit: Rheinmetall

Skyranger 30

The Skyranger 30 is a highly advanced air defense system developed by Rheinmetall Air Defense. It’s designed to provide superior protection against a wide range of aerial threats. These threats include aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs], and rockets.

The technical characteristics of the Skyranger 30 make it a formidable defense system. It’s equipped with a 30mm automatic cannon capable of firing 200 rounds per minute. The system also features a state-of-the-art fire control system, which includes search and tracking radars. The search radar has a range of 20 kilometers, while the tracking radar can track targets up to 15 kilometers away. 

The operational range of the Skyranger 30 is impressive. It can engage targets at a distance of up to 3,000 meters and at an altitude of up to 3,000 meters. This capability makes it effective in defending against both low-flying and high-altitude threats.

Skyranger’s technology

In terms of armament, the Skyranger 30 is equipped with a 30mm automatic cannon. This cannon can fire a variety of ammunition types, including high-explosive and armor-piercing rounds. The system also can carry and launch surface-to-air missiles, providing an extra layer of defense against aerial threats. 

The operation principle of the Skyranger 30 is based on the synergy of advanced radar technology and rapid-fire capabilities. This system’s radar detects and tracks approaching threats while the fire control system calculates the optimal firing solution. Once the target is in range, the automatic cannon or surface-to-air missiles are engaged to neutralize the threat.

Photo credit: Rheinmetall

Skyranger 30 is now on sale

Austria has taken the lead by ordering thirty-six Skyranger 30 systems. Furthermore, we’re noticing interest among other NATO and/or EU member states who have expressed their willingness or are already in the process of acquiring the system. As an example, Hungary approved a deal with Rheinmetall in December 2023 to create a Skyranger 30 turret concept for their impending air defense variant of the Lynx KF41-tracked armored vehicle. Lithuania is examining the possibilities with the Boxer-mounted Skyranger 30, while Denmark is formulating plans to acquire the Skyranger 30 solution paired with another wheeled armored vehicle. 

In a recent development, we’ve observed the Skyranger 30 undergoing rigorous live field trials successfully at the Group’s proving ground in Ochsenboden, Switzerland, in December 2023. It displayed its mettle in both stationary and moving modes. These trials have revealed significant insights that could quicken the production and incorporation of the German verification model while reducing associated risks.

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