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Skyguard / GDF-001/2/3 / GDF-005

In order to strengthen its position in the world market Oerlikon Contraves AG changed its name to Rheinmetall Air Defence AG as of 01 January 2009. Around the globe, the armed forces of more than 40 nations have come to rely on the multifaceted, automated and highly effective air defence solutions produced by Rheinmetall Air Defence. Among the company's best-known products are its widely introduced Skyguard twin-gun fire units.

In the late 1950s, Oerlikon-Bührle (later Oerlikon Contraves) began development of a twin 35mm towed automatic anti-aircraft gun. Designated 1 ZLA/353 MK, the first prototype was completed in 1959, and entered production as the 2 ZLA/353 MK, subsequently redesignated the GDF-001. By 1980, the GDF-002 model was introduced. This advanced version had a Ferranti [now MBDA] sight instead of the original Xaba sight and digital data transmission. By 2000, over 2,000 GDF twin 35mm systems had been produced with sales made to some 30 countries.

The Oerlikon Contraves twin 35 mm GDF-002 automatic anti-aircraft gun is used primarily as an anti-aircraft weapon but can also be employed against ground targets. It can be used on its own with its onboard optical sight, but is normally used in conjunction with an off-carriage fire-control system. A typical battery would consist of two GDF series anti-aircraft guns, each with a power supply unit and fire-control unit. The fire-control unit was originally the Contraves Super Fledermaus, later replaced in production in Switzerland by the much more effective Oerlikon Contraves Skyguard fire-control system.

Switzerland's state-of-the-art in weapons fire control systems incorporated in the "Skyguard" modular unit displayed at the 1973 Paris Air Show. There it was judged bymilitary observers to offer "significant advantages" over the widely used "Superfledennaus." Compact and capable of configuration in several ways, including use with guns or missiles, Skyguard was, like the Superfledermaus. a development by Contraves A. G. of Switzerland. The system featured comhination search and track doppler radars, a TV-tracker, digital signal processing, and a frequency diversity capability. It was widely deployed in the 1980s.

Designed for mounting on a truck, trailerOr tracked vehicle, Skyguard was capable of giving fire-control information to on-board and off-board missiles, and to off-board gun systems. It also can be used as a fire direction center by providing surveillance and target acquisition information to additional fire control radars. Separate pulse doppler search and track radar antennas are mounted on a common pedestal. A common transmitter, operating at I-band frequencies (8 to 10 GHz), feeds both antennas through a variable power splitter. The search antenna is a cassegrain fan-fed pillbox rotating at 60 rpm. The tracking radar also uses a cassegrainian antenna encased in a radome and has a mono-pulse tracking capability. The TV tracker is boresighted witb the tracking radar antenna for additional accuracy.

Most of the RF power is fed to the search radar until target acquisition by the track radar or the decision to engage, and is then split for engagement. The search radar can continue the search during tbe tracking mode. The fire-control system uses two operators seated at the console inside the van. The console has a PPI (plan position inmcator) and AIR (azimuth/range) display for the TV tracker. The radars have the ability to track two targets simultaneously and to switch instantaneously to the target chosen for engagement. The predicted point of intercept is then displayed on the operator's console. An alarm is sounded on the console if the radar detects the launch of an air-to-ground missile.

The GDF-005 gun was introduced in May 1985. This overall improvement of the GDF-001/2/3 and these earlier models can be upgradedto the GDF-005 standard by the use of combat improvement kits supplied by Oerlikon Contraves. The GDF-005 features a new autonomous gun sighting system.

The U.S. Army recognized the need for a new AD system, and in January 1978, the Division Air Defense Gun System (DIVAD - “Sergeant York”) program was embarked upon by the U.S. Army for the design, development, fabrication, and test of two prototypes. The reasoning for the program was that the Army’s forward maneuver forces were recognized to beseverely lacking in air-defense coverage. Development contractors employedexisting European cannons and U.S.-made fire control systems and radars. The chassis, as prescribed by the U.S. Army, was a modified, Government Furnished Equipment (GFE), M48A5 tank. One prototype had as the main armament twin 40-mm L70 Bofors (Sweden) guns, while the other twin 35-mm KDA Oerlikon (Swiss) guns. For various reasons, the DIVAD program did not live to see actual deployment.

The Japanese AW-X was a self-propelled 35mm antiaircraft gun. A full system was fabricated from FY 1982 to 1984 with ¥3,090 million earmarked in the FY 1982 budget. The AW-X consisted of a Model 74 tank chassis, a 35mm gun (the Swiss Oerlikon KDA) and an advanced fire control system. A mass production program was prepared by FY 1986.

Oerlikon's AHEAD projectile was initially designed as an air defense system, in conjunction with the 35-mm twin gun, primarily to defeat cruise missiles. This was demonstratedin 1993, in the Skyguard Fire-Control/35-mm Twin Gun Air Defence System Demonstration in Austria. The AHEAD projectile was touted as defeating or deterring many other systems, including precision-guided munitions, remotely piloted vehicles, tactical fighter aircraft, attackhelicopters, and armored fighting vehicles.

In contrast to typical HE projectiles, the AHEAD uses very minimal HE, 0.9 g. This explosive is used to break the outer shell, allowing the sub-projectiles (3.3-g length-to-diameter ratio of ~1) to be released. The contractor states that each of the subprojectiles is spin stabilized as it is dispersed from the original package. The subprojectiles create a narrow spread of fragments, cone of-10° at close ranges but expanding upto 18 ° at larger ranges (4 km).





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