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The Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) is in the final stages of awarding a contract for the ‘effector’ (weapon system) part of the Royal Danish Army’s new very-short-range air defence (V-SHORAD) system, according to a press release on 16 May 2023.

Specifically, DALO will award a contract to Rheinmetall for the Skyranger 30 air defence turret developed by Rheinmetall Air Defence AG (formerly Oerlikon).

The Skyranger 30 turret carries an S-band active electronically scanned-array radar for target detection, supported by an infra-red search and track system and dual laser rangefinders.

The turret is armed with a 30×173 mm Oerlikon KCE revolver cannon with an effective range of around 3,000 m, a rate of fire of 1,200 rounds per minute, and the ability to fire Oerlikon’s Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction AHEAD) ammunition. AHEAD munitions, which are available in multiple calibres, are time-fuzed airburst rounds. In the 30×173 mm version, each projectile carries 160 cylindrical tungsten subprojectiles, each weighing 1.25 g. Upon firing the time fuze is programmed by the fire control system to ensure detonation of the round, and release of the fragments, at the right time and position to project a cone-shaped cloud of fragments towards the target. The combination of a relatively high rate of fire and the option of firing AHEAD ammunition enables the Skyranger turret to effectively engage fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, loitering munitions, cruise missiles and even small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The turret is also able to engage ground targets.

The main V-SHORAD system integration contract was awarded to Denmark’s biggest defence contractor, Terma A/S, just over a month before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Experience from that conflict has amply demonstrated the threat posed by especially smaller UAVs and loitering munitions and, according to the DALO press release, the lessons learned in Ukraine are one of the motivations for the procurement of a system able to engage and defeat small airborne targets.

In addition to the KCE revolver cannon, the Skyranger 30 turret is fitted with obscurant smoke grenade launchers for vehicle self-protection and can also integrate two short-range surface-to-air missiles, either infrared homing (such as the FIM-92 Stinger) or laser guided (such as the Saab RBS 70). Integrating the missiles extends the effective range of the system to 5-8 km, depending on the range of the chosen missile. The DALO press release states that type selection of the missile for the Skyranger 30 is ongoing and will be made shortly.

The relatively light weight of the Skyranger 30 turret, and the fact that it is remotely operated (with no crew in the turret itself) allows it to be installed on lightweight, wheeled platforms. The intent of the Royal Danish Army is to integrate the Skyranger 30 with the General Dynamics European Land Systems/Mowag Piranha V 8×8 armoured vehicle, which is already in Danish service and meets the army’s requirements for mobility and protection. The ability of the new air defence turret to be integrated on an existing platform minimises the additional logistical burden of the new system.

A further point in favour of the Skyranger 30 is the announced intent by Germany to procure the Skyranger for integration with the Boxer armoured vehicle. Adoption by the German Army will allow for cross-border co-operation in the areas of maintenance, spare parts, ammunition and training.

The Royal Danish Army has chosen Rheinmetall’s Skyranger 30 turret for its V-SHORAD requirement. (Photo: Rheinmetall)

This procurement by Denmark is performed as part of the ongoing Danish 2018-2023 Defence Agreement, which defines budgets and goals for, among other things, defence procurement. It follows on the heels of the above-mentioned award, on 19 January 2023, of a 30-year framework contract to Terma A/S, according to which Terma A/S will act as primary contractor for the V-SHORAD system, responsible for the integration of the various system components, to include Terma’s own command and control system. Other components, such as platforms for the system, effectors/weapons and sensors, will be provided either by the Royal Danish Army, as government-furnished equipment, by Terma, or via international procurement. Terma will also be responsible for the continued maintenance of the system, which explains the long duration of the framework contract.

The Royal Danish Army has been without an organic air defence component since 2009, when the short-range FIM-92 Stinger missile was phased out. The acquisition and integration of an air defence capability is also part of Denmark’s commitment to NATO. Specifically, this commitment includes a (V-SHORAD) capability, able to:

  • Provide organic air defence for army units up to brigade size;
  • Perform V-SHORAD command and control;
  • Perform detection, warning and identification of potential air threats; and
  • Co-operate and integrate with other NATO and national air defence systems.

The contract for the Skyranger 30 is expected to be awarded in around 10 days. DALO has issued a so-called ‘Voluntary ex ante transparency notice’ on the EU Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) website, following which there is a 10-day waiting period where other potential suppliers can lodge complaints if they feel this is warranted.

The total value of the contract, and the number of systems to be procured, are not stated in the DALO press release but, according to the TED notice, the total contract value is DKK 920 M (EUR 123.6 M).

Thomas Lauge Nielsen