|Oerlikon Contraves AG
|Anti-aircraft defence turret
Deployable around the clock and in all weathers, the Skyranger system consists of three principal components:
The individual components can be integrated into any tracked or wheeled tactical vehicle currently in service or slated for procurement. The components can be tailored to the mission and combined in a variety of ways. Typically, a Skyranger unit consists of a CPSR and three to four effectors, though it is possible to connect as many as six guns or missile launchers.
In the Skyranger system, the sensors, command systems and effectors are all decoupled. When the reconnaissance radar detects a target, it assigns it to one or more effectors in the network either automatically or manually. The subsystems then lock onto the target, tracking it until it is destroyed. During this process, target and position data is exchanged at regular intervals between the command post and the effectors, thus ensuring a uniform air situation picture.
In accordance with the two-layer air defence concept, the system's launchers are deployed against larger aerial targets such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and unmanned air vehicles. The guns are reserved for larger aerial targets that have penetrated the first line of defence, as well as smaller aerial targets. Thanks to Rheinmetall's Ahead ammunition and the gun's high rate of fire (1,000 rounds per minute), the system is highly effective in this role.
Moreover, the Skyranger system's 35mm cannon can also be used to engage ground targets – either autonomously or following assignment by the CPSR, whose radar system features a ground-to-ground mode for detecting slow targets. It can also be integrated into a ground-based command and control architecture.
Furthermore, it is possible to network various Skyranger units. This permits the exchange of relevant tactical data such as air pictures or area maps, enabling an efficient defence of the assigned airspace.
It is also possible to connect it to other air defence systems – shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, for example – and to integrate Skyranger into a higher echelon air defence command structure. This can be done using standard links like Link 11B and Link 16. The degree of networkability is set to increase in the near future.
As an alternative to decoupled systems, Rheinmetall is also considering hybrid solutions in which a single vehicle carries the sensors, command systems and effectors.
Skyranger is currently in the project development phase. A number of potential customers have already announced their interest in the system; the first orders could come in the first half of the next decade.
Skyranger underscores Rheinmetall's role as one of the world's foremost – and most efficient – suppliers of modular weapon systems. In an age where fresh security challenges can literally spring up overnight, being quick off the mark provides a vital edge, enabling a swift, flexible response to new threats.