Skyshield Air-Defense System: Safeguarding the Skies from UAVs and Cruise Missile Threats
Skyshield is a ground-based short-range air defense system researched and manufactured by the Swiss company Oerlikon, now part of the Rheinmetall group, Germany.
The war in Ukraine demonstrated that military facilities such as forward operating bases are vulnerable to missile, artillery and mortar attacks. Indeed, such weapons have become a significant threat in asymmetric conflicts. Munitions are getting smaller, cheaper, and more effective. Close-range weapon systems are increasingly being developed by countries to deal with these threats.
Skyshield is a ground-based short-range air defense system researched and manufactured by the Swiss company Oerlikon, now part of the Rheinmetall group, Germany. The system is designed to destroy low-altitude air targets such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, UAVs and cruise missiles.
It is considered as the successor to the Skyguard defense system. A highly effective combination of sensors, effects and command technology allows it to take down air threats, as well as fulfill the C-RAM role.
The weapons system itself consists of two 35 mm revolver cannons with a rate of fire of 1,000 rounds per minute, a fire control system made up of a sensor unit and a detached command post. The Skyshield can use up to two surface-to-air missile 8-cell modules for an expanded air defense capability. The Skyshield is easily deployed by trucks and other transportation systems.
The Skyshield fires the 35mm Air Burst Ammunition Ahead able to destroy the target by multiple impacts of heavy metal, spin-stabilized sub-projectiles. Each 35 mm Ahead shell contains a payload of 152 sub-projectiles, which are ejected just ahead of the incoming target, triggered by a precision programmable time fuse.
A short burst of 35 mm Ahead ammunition produces a cloud of lethal sub-projectiles, resulting in sustained saturation of the anticipated target position. AHEAD is designed specifically for small, very low and fast-flying targets such as drones, dispensers and missiles, and it can be used by all 35 mm guns retrofitted with the muzzle-velocity gauge and an electronic processing unit.
The command post can be placed up to 500 meters, roughly, from the fire control unit (FCU), using encrypted radio-waves. The Skyshield system can be networked with other air defense systems for wider and more effective air coverage, expanding its roles from point defense to area defense.