Rheinmetall is supplying an international customer with two Skynex air defence systems. The systems will enhance the customer’s ability to defend itself against aerial threats. Worth around €182 million, the system is to be delivered in the beginning of 2024. Relying on automatic cannon-based air defence, Skynex lends itself especially well to very short-range contexts where guided missiles are ineffective. Moreover, the use of programmable 35mm Ahead ammunition, as developed by Rheinmetall for this purpose, is significantly less expensive than comparable guided missile-based systems. Equally important: 35mm ammunition cannot be influenced much less jammed by electronic countermeasures when fired. The success of the self-propelled Flakpanzer Gepard antiaircraft system in Ukraine underscores the effectiveness of 35mm gun-based air defence against aerial targets, especially cruise missiles and drones. In addition, a memorandum of understanding was signed for the procurement of HX trucks in the amount of approximately €12 million. These vehicles will be delivered with the Skynex systems.
The advanced Skynex air defence system is based on a concept that keeps airspace surveillance separate from the effectors. The system enables integration of radar equipment from various manufacturers. Skynex also offers great freedom with respect to effectors, enabling integration of many different advanced air defence weapons into the system. Owing to this modularity, and depending on the mission, the necessary assets can be linked to the command-and-control network. In a remotely located command and weapon engagement centre, the recognized air situation is depicted on a map together with the sensors and effectors positioned in the field, thus simplifying allocation of targets to air defence assets connected to the system. Having its own tracking unit is the sole prerequisite. Besides individual sensors and effectors, existing air defence systems like the Skyshield and Skyguard families can be built into the new architecture as fire units.
The Skynex is the latest air defence concept of Rheinmetall and sets new standards with its unique and open architecture. A control node, which houses the operation consoles and the Oerlikon Skymaster Battle Management System, forms the centrepiece of the system. Various sensors and effectors can be linked in a modular way in order to fit mission requirements. Radars, such as the Oerlikon X-TAR3D provide the air picture, which is consolidated in the remote control node. From there, air targets are assigned to autonomous effectors via the Skymaster network. The X-TAR3D is a three-dimensional tactical acquisition radar working in X-band and performing the functions of short range search, detection, acquisition, tracking, classification and identification of air targets, in order to supply a three-dimensional local air picture to command and control network as well as track and threat data for cueing of fire control systems.
The Skyguard is produced by Oerlikon-Buehrle (now Rheinmetall Air Defence). A typical fire unit consists of two Oerlikon GDF 35 mm twin cannon platforms with a single Skyguard fire control radar. It’s an all weather low to medium altitude (up to 3,000 m) air defence system with the maximum effective distance of 4,000 m. Skyguard systems can also incorporate an optional SAM module based on the GDF’s mount and radar system but with the guns replaced by four missile canisters. Skyshield Air-defence system is a modular, light weight, Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) system developed by the Swiss corporation Oerlikon Contraves (now a subsidiary of Rheinmetall of Germany). The successor to the Skyguard defense system, Skyshield is intended to rapidly acquire and destroy threatening aircraft and missiles, as well as to fulfill a C-RAM (Counter rocket, artillery, and mortar) role.