Rheinmetall, a prominent German defense company, recently unveiled the “Skyranger 30,” a cutting-edge short-range air defense (SHORAD) system that was showcased at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. This innovative system is considered the future of SHORAD technology.
The Skyranger 30 boasts an automated turret capable of firing an impressive 1,250 rounds of 30mm airburst ammunition per minute. It can be elevated to a maximum of 85 degrees and depressed to -10 degrees, offering a full 360-degree rotation capability. What makes this system particularly intriguing is its integration of the turret onto an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) based on the RIPSAW M5 robotic UGV developed by Rheinmetall’s partner, Textron Defense Systems. This unique combination results in a fully autonomous setup, representing a significant departure from traditional SHORAD systems.
“The Skyranger 30 variant represents a significant leap ahead in c-UAS technology by coupling 360° air and ground surveillance with an autonomous 30mm Oerlikon Revolver Gun, Oerlikon AHEAD airburst ammunition, and short-range air defense missiles. The 30mm revolver gun provides ultimate firepower and precision at 1,250 rds/min, and when combined with the dynamically programmed airburst ammunition, enhances the probability of hitting even the smallest micro and nano drones,” says Rheinmetall.
One remarkable aspect of the Skyranger 30 is its relatively low weight of around 10.5 tons, making it substantially lighter than the SHORAD-armed Stryker currently in use by the U.S. Army. Rheinmetall’s CEO, Stephen Hedger, emphasized that the system’s full automation is a groundbreaking development, as UGVs were not previously considered for SHORAD applications.
This advanced setup, featuring both an automated chassis and turret, is expected to provide improved capabilities for detecting and countering aerial threats, particularly drones when compared to crewed vehicles. The U.S. Army is actively seeking mobile SHORAD systems to address the growing threat of drones on modern battlefields, as it divested from air defense artillery in the early 2000s.
Hedger further highlighted the Skyranger’s impressive capability to effectively counter unmanned aerial systems, achieving a remarkable 90% success rate within a range of 1.86 miles (3 kilometers).
“The requirement for a more lethal SHORAD system that can address a swarm [of drones], that can address a larger and more complex UAV, a maneuvering UAS, loitering munitions is absolutely clear,” Hedger explained.
“The use of best-in-class cannon systems means that Skyranger can stand its ground against swarming attacks. Together with Textron’s M5, Skyranger can be deployed alongside ground forces or used for stationary vital-asset protection. The Skyranger can protect mobile units on the march or critical fixed infrastructure and facilities from loiter, pop-up, and dive attacks,” explains Rheinmetall.
This technology represents a significant advancement in the realm of short-range air defense, demonstrating Rheinmetall’s commitment to developing innovative solutions to address evolving security challenges.
He added that mounting the “Skyranger 30″ turret to the M5 is an excellent solution for the Army’s shift towards unmanned defense against drones. “We certainly wanted to demonstrate here the ability for this type of turret to be integrated with this type of system on a platform like the M5,” said Hedger, who noted that the Army first resolved its interim SHORAD solution but is still looking to the future. “Where the Army may well be headed is a platform like the M5,” he added.