Rheinmetall to upgrade Austria’s Skyguard air defence system
Rheinmetall will upgrade Austria’s Skyguard air defence system under a €532 million (US$573 million) programme expected to begin in February 2024 and run for two years.
The contract, Project Skyguard Next Generation (SkyNex), will consist of seven tactical units, each comprising four 35mm guns, a sensor unit for monitoring airspace and a command post.
As part of the deal, 28 Austrian 35mm guns will be upgraded to the latest standard. The contract has also included spare parts, training support and 35mm ammunition, along with the option for an additional tactical unit.
The Skynex system was based on existing weapons systems owned by the Austrian Army. As part of a service life extension programme, Austria’s existing 35mm Oerlikon twin guns will be completely modernized and linked to a high-performance target tracking capability, as well as linking to Rheinmetall’s Skymaster command system.
The Skynex system encompasses airspace surveillance, a weapon engagement centre and effectors. Featuring a rate of fire of 1,000 rounds per minute and a maximum effective range of up to 4,000 metres, Oerlikon rapid-fire automatic cannon would serve as the effectors.
The company pointed to the success of ‘the 35mm Gepard antiaircraft tank in Ukraine as a sign of the effectiveness of cannon-based in countering aerial targets – especially cruise missiles and drones – and the continuing relevance of this capability today in close-range air defence’.
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