Networked air defence by Rheinmetall
For many decades, air attacks have posed a severe threat to ground troops and civilian population centres, as well as vital military and civilian infrastructure. The situation in future conflicts is unlikely to be any different. The threats from above are many and varied, ranging from fixed-wing aircraft, attack helicopters and cruise missiles to unmanned air vehicles (UAV), precision-guided munitions, and rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) fire. Low-altitude air threats in particular present an around-the-clock menace, irrespective of weather, terrain and electronic countermeasures, endangering static and moving targets – at land as well as on sea.
In the domain of cannon-based air defence technology, Rheinmetall is a global leader and the sole single-source supplier of battle management systems, fire control systems, automatic cannons, integrated missile launchers, and AHEAD ammunition. One of the company’s core competencies is the development and manufacture of advanced air defence systems as well as simulators and training systems.
At Indo Defence 2016, Rheinmetall is displaying the group’s competence in air defence. Furthermore the Indonesian Air Force is displaying an Oerlikon REVOLVER Gun Mk2.
The Oerlikon SKYSHIELD MOOTW/C-RAM system is Rheinmetall’s answer to the RAM threat. It is specifically designed to defend high-value civilian or military assets from RAM attacks, whether in high-intensity combat scenarios or in “military operations other than war” (MOOTW). The system can also be used for protecting critical infrastructure or targets with a high symbolic value from terrorists and insurgents employing unorthodox tactics.
The SKYSHIELDMOOTW/C-RAM system depends on Oerlikon AHEAD airburst ammunition technology. Its Oerlikon REVOLVER Guns are available in various configurations and are suitable for multiple applications. They can operate in a conventional antiaircraft role or be used for protecting military and civilian assets from RAM threats, and are also highly effective in a naval context: Known as the Oerlikon MILLENNIUM Gun, it is already in service with two navies. Highly sophisticated yet extremely robust, this state-of-the-art system combines permanent airspace surveillance, automated detection and tracking of extremely small targets, prior warning of areas under threat and the interception and destruction of approaching RAM targets.
Coupled with an Oerlikon SKYMASTER command and control (C2) system in MOOTW configuration, the Oerlikon SKYSHIELD MOOTW/C-RAM system is entirely up to the task. Instantly and automatically, the SKYSHIELD MOOTW/C-RAM system reliably neutralises a wide variety of threats. It calculates the incoming projectile’s point of impact and warns personnel in the threatened zone. Advanced fire control technology results in optimum, precisely timed target assignment and interception.
In November 2012, the German Air Force took delivery of the Rheinmetall-made MANTIS air defence system. MANTIS (Modular, Automatic and Network-capable Targeting and Interception System) is based on tried-and-tested Oerlikon SKYSHIELD air defence technology. Furthermore, Rheinmetall’s SKYSHIELD technology is by no means limited to static defence roles. Mobile applications are equally feasible. For short-term missions, a truck-mounted version is available which can be deployed without unloading the system from the truck. This is particularly useful if the mission involves protecting a succession of different sites for short periods. Mounting a SKYSHIELD Air Defence System on an all-terrain 6×6 or 8×8 vehicle ensures maximum operational flexibility.
The Oerlikon REVOLVER Gun Mk2, which is on display at Indo Defence 2016, is a remotely controlled, networkable, 35x228mm air defence gun. It features beltless ammunition feeding. Using clips, two men can replenish the 252-round magazine in about eight minutes. This enables 14 bursts of 18 rounds each. Its electronically controlled rate of fire is 1,000 per minute.
The Mk2 is designed to use Rheinmetall’s AHEAD ammunition technology. Furthermore, it can be modified very easily to make it C-RAM-capable.
Each round of Rheinmetall’s 35mm Oerlikon AHEAD airburst ammunition contains a lethal payload of heavy metal spin-stabilised sub-projectiles, unleashed in the path of an oncoming target at a programmable, predefined point in time. A short burst of AHEAD ammunition produces a dense cloud of lethal sub-projectiles. These penetrate the outer skin of the target, causing catastrophic damage to its interior.
AHEAD airburst ammunition can bring down targets at great distances with fewer rounds fired, making it a cost-effective solution. The technology can be used in ammunition ranging in calibre from 30mm to 76mm. AHEAD technology is suitable for ground, air force and naval applications. As an alternative option, Ahead rounds can also be fired in non-fused mode, in which they behave like frangible rounds upon impact and are able to penetrate and destroy hard targets very effectively. In effect, AHEAD is actually two types of ammunition in one.
Existing SKYGUARD and SKYSHIELD systems can also be retrofitted with AHEAD technology. Furthermore, due to the complete modularity of its systems, Rheinmetall is able to bring additional components into play, readily creating multi-mission capabilities tailored to the needs of individual clients. Cutaway models of Rheinmetall’s Oerlikon AHEAD muzzle-integrated programming unit and AHEAD ammunition are on show.