On February 8, 2023, the German federal government announced it will deliver an additional batch of Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine. Air defense weapons are a crucial and very urgent need of the Ukrainian army, as it appears that Russia has just started to launch its expected large offensive in Donbas.
The German Ministry of Defense announced on December 1, 2022, the delivery to Ukraine of a new batch of 7 Gepard 35mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun systems. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Germany had already supplied Ukraine with 30 Gepards. So, now, on top of the 37 Gepards already offered – though not yet all delivered – to Ukraine, more units will reinforce the country’s arsenal. A badly needed asset, indeed.
It is a pity that the 38 ex-Belgian army Gepards that OIP Land Systems has for sale in its hangar would be very (too much?) expensive to restore in combat condition.
Considering the sky-high consumption of ammunition of all types made by the Ukrainian army, be it small arms rounds, artillery and tank shells, or missiles, the problem of re-supply is becoming more and more difficult to solve. The numerous 35mm rounds to be fired by the Gepards (550 rounds per barrel, per minute) to shoot down the increasing number of missiles and drones (not to mention the scarce aircraft) launched by the Russians will add another concern to this problem. At the light of the Ukraine war, the resupply in ammunition of all types is already becoming a crucial industrial target in all NATO countries.
The Gepard anti-aircraft tank
The Gepard is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system that is based on the tracked chassis of the Leopard 1 MBT (Main Battle Tank). It is no longer in service with the German army but it continues to be used by other countries around the world.
The Gepard is armed with two Oerlikon Contraves 35-mm KDA cannons, one mounted on each side of the turret. These have a cyclic fire rate of 550 rounds per barrel, per minute, with an effective air defense range of about 3,500 m and more than 4,500 m with the new FAPDS (Frangible Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot)ammunition that can be used to defeat air targets, light tactical and armored vehicles.
Despite the Gepard dating back from the 1980s, it remains effective against aerial threats including drones, which are one of the main threats in the war in Ukraine.
The Gepard can search and track targets in fully autonomous mode thanks to its independent search and tracking radars. In fact, the vehicle is fitted with two radars including a pulse Doppler search radar located at the rear of the turret roof and a tracking radar mounted at the front of the turret. The radars provide 360° scanning with simultaneous target tracking, clutter suppression, search on the move capability, and a monopulse tracking mode with a range of 15 km.
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