The Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer Gepard (“anti-aircraft cannon tank Cheetah”, better known as the Flakpanzer Gepard) is an all-weather-capable German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG). It was developed in the 1960s and fielded in the 1970s, and has been upgraded several times with the latest electronics. It constituted a cornerstone of the air defence of the German Army (Bundeswehr) and a number of other NATO countries. In Germany, the Gepard was phased out in late 2010 and replaced by Wiesel 2 Ozelot Leichtes Flugabwehrsystem (LeFlaSys) with four FIM-92 Stinger or LFK NG missile launchers. A variant with the MANTIS gun system and LFK NG missiles, based on the GTK Boxer, was also considered.
The vehicle is based on the hull of the Leopard 1 tank with a large fully rotating turret carrying the armament—a pair of 35 mm Oerlikon KDA autocannons and the two radar dishes—a general search radar at the rear of the turret and the tracking radar, and a laser rangefinder, at the front between the guns. Each gun has a firing rate of 550 rounds/min. The guns are 90 calibres (3.15 m (10 ft 4 in)) long, with a muzzle velocity of 1,440 m/s (4,700 ft/s) (FAPDS—Frangible Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot rounds), giving an effective range of 5,500 m. The KDA autocannon can take two different ammunition types; the usual loading is a mix of 320 AA and 20 AP rounds per gun. Combined rate of fire is 1,100 rounds/min.
The Gepard is based on a slightly modified chassis of the Leopard 1 main battle tank, including the complete drive unit with a 37.4-liter 10-cylinder multi-fuel engine (type: MB 838 CaM 500) with two mechanical superchargers built by MTU. The V-engine with a cylinder angle of 90 degrees has 610 kW at 2200 RPM (830 PS) and consumes, depending on the surface and driving style, around 150 liters per 100 kilometers. To ensure a steady supply of oil, even in difficult terrain and under extreme skew, the engine is provided with a dry sump forced lubrication. Even the gearbox from ZF Friedrichshafen and the exhaust system with fresh air admixture to reduce the infrared signature were taken from the Leopard 1 MBT.
The current version of the GEPARD is designed to overcome all challenges of the 21st century in defence against modern combat aircraft, attack helicopters, remote-controlled missiles and rockets. It can also dependably combat drones. The ballistic projectiles cannot be destroyed by electronic defence measures and the clouds of shrapnel they generate will reliably destroy the target. KMW has mass-produced 570 systems of this type as general contractor and has also been main contractor for the technical and logistical support for the system since it went into use. GEPARDs have been supplied to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Romania.