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Rheinmetall Supplies 35mm AHEAD Ammunition for Skynex Air Defense System to European Nation

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Rheinmetall Supplies 35mm AHEAD Ammunition for Skynex Air Defense System to European Nation

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Rheinmetall Skynex Air Defense System
Rheinmetall Skynex Air Defense System

A European customer country has commissioned Rheinmetall to supply 35mm AHEAD ammunition for the Skynex air defense system. The total value of the order is in the low three-digit million euro range. A six-digit number of cartridges will be manufactured. The Skynex system strengthens the protection of the customer country’s armed forces against threats from the air. This new order once again underlines Rheinmetall’s leading technological position in the development and production of highly efficient ammunition for air defense in Europe. The use of programmable 35mm AHEAD ammunition, as developed by Rheinmetall for this purpose, is considerably cheaper than comparable guided missile-based systems. it is not possible to influence or even deflect the 35mm ammunition by electronic countermeasures after firing.

The Skynex is a modular air defense architecture centered around the Skymaster battle management system that can link components of the Skyshield. The Skynex is based on cannon-based air defense and is therefore particularly suitable for close-range protection where guided weapons cannot be effective. The Skynex air defense system is based on a concept that keeps airspace surveillance separate from the effectors, only requiring a tracking unit to link a C2 network with different weapons. Each Skynex system comprises four Revolver Gun Mk3 cannons, a CN-1 control node, and an X-TAR3D radar all mounted on HX trucks. Besides the single sensors and effectors, users can also link existing fire units such as Skyshield or Skyguard in a classic fire unit configuration to the control node. Skynex allows integrating sensors from different manufacturers.

Rheinmetall Supplying International Customer with Two Skynex Air Defence System
Rheinmetall Skynex Air Defence System -Revolver Gun Mk 3. (Photo by Rheinmetall)

The Skyshield air-defense 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. The weapons system itself consists of two 35 mm (1.38 inch) revolver cannons with a rate of fire of 1,000 rounds per minute, a fire control system made up of a sensor unit and a detached command post. The Skyshield can use up to two surface-to-air missile 8-cell modules for an expanded air defense capability. The Skyshield is designed for traditional anti-aircraft roles in addition to defense against missiles.

Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction (AHEAD) ammunition is a type of airburst round ammunition that releases a cloud of sub-projectiles just ahead of a target, enabling it to engage conventional as well as low, slow and small (LSS) air threats including unmanned aerial vehicles and perform counter rocket, artillery, and mortar duties. The 35 mm variety produced by Oerlikon Contraves splits each projectile into 152 tungsten submunitions “that form a cone-shaped pattern to destroy a target’s control surfaces and other vital components”. This type of ammunition is listed as an official acronym at the British Ministry of Defence. There are four types of 35 mm AHEAD ammunition: PMD062 with a payload of 152 sub-projectiles, PMD330 with 497 sub-projectiles, PMD375 with 860 sub-projectiles and PMD428 with more than 600 sub-projectiles.

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