- The Flakpanzer Gepard is one of Ukraine’s most valuable weapons against Russia.
- A 1970s air defense cannon, the Gepard was highly effective in taking down Russian drones.
- However, Switzerland, which manufactures Gepard’s ammunition, does not allow any more of its ammunition to be sent to Ukraine.
One of the most valuable weapons Ukraine has acquired to fight Russia is the relatively simple German system of the 1970s. Anti-aircraft tank Gepard.
The Gepard, which means ‘cheetah’ in German, is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun that destroys aerial targets with two automatic cannons. This was the first heavy weapon Germany sent to Ukraine.
Despite being nearly 50 years old, Gepard plays an important role in Ukraine’s air defense network. The justification for using advanced surface-to-air missiles is to eliminate low-flying drones and missiles, which are very threatening but too cheap and too numerous. shoot down.
Gepard’s service in Ukraine demonstrated the enduring value of a simple, mobile anti-aircraft system in the 21st century, but Ukraine’s Gepard faces another problem far from the front lines. Its.
Gepard was designed in the 1960s and entered service in the 1970s. Built on the chassis of the Leopard 1 tank, she has a top speed of 40 mph and a range of 340 miles.
Its main armament consists of two 35 mm Oerlikon GDF autocannons on each side of a specially designed turret. Each cannon is loaded with about 320 rounds, both of which he can fire 550 rounds per minute. Ammo belts are fed to each gun through a sealed chute in the turret.
Gepard can fire a variety of ammunition, including Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot Tracer rounds, High Explosive Incendiary Tracer rounds, Advanced Hit Efficiency and Destruction rounds. Depending on the ammunition used, the Gepard cannon can hit targets at approximately 6,500 yards.
An S-band search radar is mounted at the rear of the turret, and a Ku-band tracking radar is mounted at the front. Each radar can detect targets up to about 9 miles away. The search radar, which rotates at a constant 60 rpm, locates the target and passes the data to the tracking radar for continuous search.
With a crew of three (commander, driver and gunner), the Gepard was designed to combat heavily armed Soviet helicopter gunships. That target set eventually expanded to include low-flying drones, missiles, and rockets.
German defense company KraussMaffei Wegmann built 570 Gepard between 1963 and 1980. 420 for the Bundeswehr, 95 for the Dutch and 55 for the Belgian. Holland and Belgium retired his Gepards around 2006 and Germany retired his in 2010. Brazil, Jordan, Qatar, and Romania then purchased his Gepards, which were decommissioned.
success in Ukraine
After being criticized for its reluctance to send heavy weapons to Ukraine, the German government promised About 50 Gepards will be dispatched to Ukraine in April 2022.his first three Arrived July was followed by 27 more by the end of the year.
As of March, 34 Gepals sent There are plans to deliver at least three more to Ukraine.
Gepards was rushed to the front line almost immediately and proved. effective for down Low-flying Russian cruise missiles and drones.they were particularly effective against Iranian Shahed-131 and 136 Loitering of munitions used by Russia against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
Ukrainian Gepard crews have achieved success despite having only two months of training, compared to the German standard of 18 months.Crew around Odessa reportedly Destroyed 10 Shahed and 2 cruise missiles in one day.
Gepards fills a critical gap in Ukraine’s air defense network. This includes long-range systems such as his Soviet-era S-300 and Buk surface-to-air missile systems, as well as Western-made systems such as: NASAMS MIM-104 Patriot recently Arrived in Ukraine.
The missiles launched by these systems are more advanced, but expensive and few in number. These missiles are also Ukraine’s main defense against Russia’s fast, high-flying fighters and bombers, and the Ukrainian military cannot afford to use them against all drones and cruise missiles. It is designed to destroy low-flying targets and is much cheaper to operate.
Various weapons work in tandem, with surface-to-air missiles allowing Russian aircraft and cruise missiles to fly at low altitudes, allowing Gepard and Ukrainian forces armed with shoulder-launched missiles to shoot them down, and combined created an air defense system. hailed by U.S. military personnel.
The Gepards’ 35mm rounds, with their airburst capability that detonates near their target and fills the air with shrapnel, are particularly useful for their mission, but access to that ammunition can also be a limiting factor. I have.
Switzerland is the only country producing Airbus ammunition for Gepard. Commitment to Neutrality but also Bans Prevents other countries from re-exporting Swiss defense products to another country at war.
As a result, Ukraine was unable to purchase more ammunition from Switzerland, and Germany was unable to send more ammunition from its stocks. fell for Political and technical reason.
Gepards is “kicking ass against drones, Shahed,” said Mark Montgomery, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and now senior director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. said in the Missile Defense Advocacy.alliance event in February.
“They’re shooting them down. They’re doing great, but they’re running low on ammunition,” Montgomery added.
February, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced The German company Rheinmetall will resume Gepard ammunition production. Said Two batches of 35mm ammunition will be delivered to Ukraine. 150,000 APDS-T rounds will arrive this summer, and in 2024 he will deliver 150,000 of his HEI-T rounds.
But Ukraine’s need for Gepard’s ammunition may only grow. A US intelligence document produced in February and leaked online in recent weeks shows assessments that Ukraine’s main surface-to-air missile could be used as early as May, Gepard said. This means that we need to fire more weapons such as
SPAAG in demand
Gepard’s performance in Ukraine demonstrated its usefulness to a wide audience, but many militaries have deployed self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, or SPAAGs, for decades.
Three ships are in service with Russia. 2K22 Tunguska, Panther S-1and aging ZSU-23-4 SilkaThere are two models in China, the older one type 95eventually replaced by a new one type 09Finnish leopard 2 marksman,Japanese 87 typeand Turkish Corcut All use Oerlikon cannons.
The US military has retired the last dedicated SPAAG. M163 VADS, in 1994.Since then it has relied entirely on missile systems avenger (set a fire Stinger), Patriotand the terminal high altitude defense systemor THAAD.
The United States’ primary anti-aircraft weapon is the Air Force, which has maintained air superiority in every conflict it has fought since the end of the Cold War.
But U.S. Air Force officials don’t expect that dominance to continue, and the U.S. military is stepping up its search for weapons like the SPAAG to fill gaps in its anti-aircraft defenses.
The U.S. Army, traditionally responsible for short-range air defense, has come up with an interim solution. Mobile short-range air defense systemBased on the Stryker armored vehicle, the M-SHORAD is armed with four Stinger missiles, two AGM-114L Hellfire missiles and a 30 mm M230 cannon.
US soldiers in Europe beginning receive M-SHORADs in April 2021.