Detector, ECM, directed energy, gun.
Rheinmetall Air Defence offers a modular toolbox which contains a possible solution for all budget sizes to counter this rising threat.
In the “sense” domain the company offers:
• The Oerlikon Radshield® Drone Detection System for multi sensor air space control. The system is optimized to reliably detect low, slow and small objects (multicopters, RC aircraft, balls, balloons, model air ships) and to discriminate them from false targets such as birds. Even a person attempting to trespass a fence can be detected by the system. Objects that are thrown over the fence of a protected asset are also detected, the flight path calculated and shown in the command and control center by triggering an alarm.
• The FIRST, an infra-red search and track sensor which ensures permanent reconnaissance of the surrounding area.
• The MSP600, a stabilized platform with thermal- and TV cameras, laser range finder and video tracking.
• The Universal Multispectral Information and Tracking (UMIT), a mission approved system for air space surveillance. It utilizes different sensors and can detect small drones.
• The Mobile Eagle Eye System (MEES), a mission approved air space and ground surveillance system. It combines the two operational components FIRST and MSP 600 and features its own mobile command post.
• In the “decide” domain the company offers:
• The Oerlikon Skymaster® Command & Control System
• Rheinmetall C2 Software which enhances the decision making process by filtering, correlating and processing data from all sensors, providing the operator with one comprehensive and common operating picture. Features such as automatic threat detection, sensor slewing and target tracking have also proven to be key enablers for quick reactions and optimum decision making to counter the threat.
• The Remote Tower, an air traffic control centre for airfields in remote locations.
In the “act” domain the company offers:
• The RF-Jammer, a multichannel, programmable high frequency emitter. The frequencies, antennas and performance can be adjusted to the specific threat environment in order to suppress all common communication frequencies used by drones or even mobile communications. The signal strength of the emitter allows interoperationality with existing transmission systems and is therefore ideal for public and governmental frequency regulation.
• The High Power Electromagnetics (HPEM) is based on a highly repetitive, semiconductor based impulse generator with a transmitting power in the GW-band. The extremely short pulse durations are emitted through a broad band antenna. This impulse causes drones to abruptly lose control and crash.
• The High Energy Laser (HEL) is able to focus the power output of one or several laser modules on one spot on the target, burning its way through the electronic parts and other components and causes the drone to lose control and crash.
At 2018 Eurosatory Rheinmetall presented its new Oerlikon Skyranger Boxer air defence system. “It can shoot down incoming rockets as well as mortar rounds – but also unmanned aerial systems, including the low, slow and small kind, e.g. quadrocopter drones; it is also highly effective against low-flying aircraft,” according to the company. “The heart of the new Oerlikon Skyranger Boxer is the air defence module, equipped with an Oerlikon Revolver Gun Mk3 turret. The system features an integrated sensor unit with X-band tracking radar and electro-optical sensors as well as electronic warfare components. This enables swift, autonomous engagement of externally assigned targets. The Skyranger can receive and process target data from both 2D and 3D search radars. Furthermore, the integrated search sensor technology and Oerlikon Skymaster battle management system give the Skyranger an autonomous sector-monitoring and target engagement capability.”
In February 2019 DFS and Rheinmetall tested an integration together with the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces. Air traffic data were exchanged with advanced radar systems, with acoustic and infrared sensors, and with optical equipment to detect a potentially threatening drone. A catch-and-carry drone threw a net over the disruptive drone and took it to the ground.
In March 2021 Rheinmetall Defence upgraded its mobile ground-based air defence system, the Skyranger 30, according to European Defence Review. The company introduced a concept demonstrator which follows the path of the Skyranger 35 and is built around the company’s 35 mm Oerlikon Revolver Gun.
The new unit is a lighter solution, 2-2.5 tonnes versus 4-4.5 tonnes, with a new remotely controlled turret that can be fitted onto bigger armoured vehicles as well as on tracked vehicles considerably extending the number of potential platforms. The idea is to provide army units with a mobile system capable to engage fixed wing, rotary wing, Group I and II unmanned air systems, and cruise missiles, exploiting the combination of a medium calibre gun system using airburst munitions and SHORAD missiles.
In early 2022 Rheinmetall has announced more details of its Skyranger 30 HEL a hybrid solution designed to thwart the full range of future airborne threats.
“Here, the interplay of a 30mm automatic cannon, guided missiles, and a high-energy laser (HEL) results in a mix of effectors unique in this combination,” said a company press release. “Teamed with a matching sensor mix, the Skyranger 30 HEL can monitor airspace autonomously, while simultaneously selecting the optimum effector in response to emerging threats. The Skyranger 30 HEL can protect mobile units on the march or critical stationary infrastructure and facilities from aerial threats.”