Skynex Counter-Drone Solution Deploys

Skynex GAD on truck
Skynex GAD on truck

In response to the increasing prevalence of unmanned drones not only on the front lines but also against deep infrastructure and civilian targets, efforts have been intensified to provide effective countermeasures.

One of these, the application of the Oerlikon 35mm auto-cannon in various configurations, has gained interest and is about to face its trial in combat. The German Government announced that it has provided to Ukraine the first of several Rheinmetall Skynex anti-aircraft gun systems included in its military aid package. In fact, Ukrainian sources suggest that these systems may not only already be operational in country but have proven their effectiveness in defending against Russian attacks.

Skynex is one of the configurations developed by Rheinmetall specifically intended to address drones and missiles, as well as low flying helicopters and fixed wing. It uses 35mm ammunition, the same calibre as the Flakpanzer Gepard which has proven so effective in Ukraine. The Skynex guns, however, are the Mk 3 revolver cannon design that has maximum rate of fire of 1000 rounds per minute with a range of up to 5000 meters. It is also configured to fire the AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency and Destruction) airburst round that programs each projectile as it leaves the muzzle placing a cloud of tungsten sub-projectiles in the path of the moving target to maximize kill probability. Skynex is a networked air defence system that integrates surveillance and targeting sensor like the X-TAR3D radar with effectors like the Mk3, but also the 30 and 35mm Skyguard and Skyshield, as well as missiles. The X-TAR3D is an X-band phased-array pulse Doppler radar with up to 45 km range optimized for detecting and tracking high manoeuvring targets even at very low altitudes.

The Skynex system was first unveiled in 2016 for short-range air defence of fixed sites. The weapon turrets are modular and can be ground or truck mounted. Ukraine’s systems are mounted on the Rheinmetall HX8X8 tactical truck. Firing units can be dispersed to enhance coverage and survivability while remotely linked into the overall air defence network. Ukrainian sources indicate that the Skynex currently deployed have already destroyed attacking drones including the Iranian SHAHED-136. An additional, Skynex with ammunition has been promised by Germany with an anticipated delivery in March 2024.

by Stephen W. Miller