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New technologies allow better and better defense against drones, but defense against swarm attacks is a particular challenge for air defense, as an individual fire control reaches its limits when it has to fight more than a handful of targets at the same time.

This challenge is growing because the threat posed by small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is currently increasing sharply. Small drones are used more and more militarily and by the police, but also by civilian customers. Due to their size, low airspeed and low altitude, they are often difficult to detect. These unmanned flight systems are comparatively cheap and can be used inexpensively by irregular forces. Even if aggressive drones are detected, there are not enough effective systems available to neutralize them.

In the event of threats from the air, these systems are assigned to the immediate and immediate range. In this area, drones have created a capability gap in the protection of mobile forces. The system of qualified anti-aircraft that is currently being procured in Germany, with the 40mm airburst ammunition of its grenade machine weapon, can only work inadequately against UAS at short range, especially not if they are armed with sufficient distance (like the Chinese Harwar Zhanfu H16-V12) .

At a press conference in Bonn, Rheinmetall explained what the boxer Skyranger with a 35mm cannon can do to close the skill gap. For target reconnaissance, the Skyranger has a search radar, which is supplemented with electro-optical sensors. The sensor mix enables the reliable detection and identification of enemy unmanned aerial systems as a prerequisite for target tracking and ultimately combat. The airburst ammunition of the 35mm cannon creates a large air space with sub-projectiles with a volley of 12 rounds with its sub-projectiles, which reliably bring the systems down. The Skyranger, which was publicly presented in 2018, has ammunition for a total of 20 salvos on board. Cannon and radar are all-weather capable for permanent 360-degree protection.

Integrated into the ground-based air defense, the Boxer Skyranger could complement the sensor and effector mix in a capability gap and make an important contribution to mobile space protection.

Gerhard Heiming