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The Austrian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is procuring Rheinmetall Skyranger 30 turreted air defence systems to install on 36 of the Pandur 6×6 Evolution (Evo) wheeled armoured vehicles it recently ordered from General Dynamics European Land Systems – Steyr (GDELS-Steyr), Rheinmetall announced on 23 February 2024.

The order is worth a figure in the mid-three-digit million-euro range, according to Rheinmetall, with deliveries to begin in 2026.

Under the project Rheinmetall is serving as a subcontractor of GDELS-Steyr, which announced on 19 February that the Austrian MoD had ordered 225 Pandur 6×6 Evo vehicles, representing a fourth batch of these vehicles for the Austrian Army. A hundred Pandur Evos have previously been ordered: 34 in 2016 and delivered by 2020, 30 in October 2020 and delivered by 2023, and a third batch of 36 in September 2022 that is currently in production and delivery.

The 36 Pandur 6×6 Evos to receive Skyranger 30 turrets will thus give the Austrian Army a significant mobile air defence capability. Skyranger combines state-of-the-art sensors with a high-performance 30 mm automatic cannon and surface-to-air missiles, which in the Austrian case will be Mistrals.

Working in close co-operation with Austrian decisionmakers, Rheinmetall specialists designed a special lightweight version of the Skyranger 30 that can be readily integrated into the Pandur Evo.

The Skyranger 30 contract forms just one part of a significant modernisation programme for the Austrian Army, which, following comprehensive analysis, made the complete renewal of its air defence capabilities a top priority. Decided on in December 2023, the modernisation and upgrade of Austria’s existing stationary 35mm systems to Rheinmetall Skyguard Next Generation (NG) status was the first step. The subsequent decision to introduce the Skyranger 30 system onto 36 Pandur 6×6 Evos bridges the Austrian Army’s capability gap in mobile air defences.

“With the almost simultaneous introduction of a rapidly deployable 35 mm solution, the Austrian military is now pointing the way in contemporary air defence,” Rheinmetall stated in a press release. “Progressive networking and integration of existing and higher-echelon systems will result in decisive strategic advantages.”

Rheinmetall previously received a Skyranger development contract from Hungary in December 2023, but the Austrian contract marks a breakthrough production order. Orders from Germany and Denmark are expected soon and, following the successful conclusion of its development contract, from Hungary as well, Rheinmetall noted.

The Austrian MoD’s procurement of Rheinmetall Skyranger 30 turreted air defence systems to install on 36 of its Pandur 6×6 Evo wheeled armoured vehicles is part of a comprehensive Austrian Army modernisation programme that has prioritised air defence. (Photo: Rheinmetall)