The German Embassy in Ukraine announced that Berlin has handed over 30 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to Kiev as previously committed.

The classic anti-aircraft gun was once a terror to the enemy air force. After decades of oblivion in favor of surface-to-air missiles, old-fashioned anti-aircraft guns are proving useful in Ukraine against drones and missiles. In the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict showing no signs of abating, Berlin has decided to provide Kiev with dozens of Gepard anti-aircraft artillery systems to help the Ukrainian army fight Russian drones.

The German Embassy in Ukraine announced that Berlin has handed over 30 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to Kiev as previously committed. Berlin also added that the delivery of air defense systems helps Kiev protect Ukrainian infrastructure and military bases against attacks by Russian forces. The new war in Ukraine made the Russian and Ukrainian forces discover that they need a lot of air defense systems – including relatively low-tech anti-aircraft guns – to deal with the jets, helicopters, drones, and missiles.

Anti-aircraft artillery was born with the age of military aircraft. The Second World War saw the power of the German Flag anti-aircraft guns. By the 1950s, however, the advent of fast, high-altitude jets made cannons and machine guns less useful than guided missiles. But new developments on the Ukrainian battlefield show that it is too expensive to use large, long-range surface-to-air missiles against air strike vehicles such as low-tech drones. And it seems that the age of the classic anti-aircraft gun is returning, once again.

The West is sending Ukraine more self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, such as the German-made Gepard, and more short-range man-portable air defense systems, such as the US-made Stinger missile. The operating costs of gun systems are much lower than that of surface-to-air missiles. Russia and Ukraine both tend to use Soviet-made S-60 anti-aircraft guns from the 1940s. Even cold war anti-aircraft guns, such as the ZSU-23-4 Shilka and 2S6 Tunguska are used by both sides to counter drones, as well as provide fire support for infantry.

Berlin has committed to deliver 50 Gepards to Ukraine. The Shahed-136, a proven UCAV, is rated as simple and not particularly difficult to intercept, but most modern anti-aircraft weapons are either too expensive or in sufficient numbers to intercept. But old-fashioned flak is a safe choice. Operating in conjunction with newer air defenses, anti-aircraft guns can still be lethal against helicopters, attack jets, and drones operating at lower altitudes.

Gepard is a self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery complex developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) in the 1960s and put into service in the army in 1973. Over the decades, Gepard gradually became the main weapon of the German air defense force after many upgrades. Gepard’s role is to protect combat units, troops and critical facilities from air attacks. In addition, it can perform the task of destroying aircraft, drones; cruise missiles or deal with ground targets.

Gepard has a weight of 47.3 tons, a length of 7.68 m, a width of 3.71 m and a height of 3.29 m. The crew of 3, including driver, commander and gunner. Built on the chassis of the Leopard 1 main battle tank, Gepard uses the MTU MB Ca M500 diesel engine with a capacity of 830 horsepower, allowing the vehicle to move at a speed of 65 km/h, and the maximum range of 550 km.

Vehicle is fitted with twin Oerlikon GDF 35 mm guns. Maximum rate of fire for a single gun is 550 rounds per minute. Ammunition load of the Gepard consists of 640 armor-piercing-incendiary rounds for firing against air targets and 40 armor-piercing rounds against ground targets.

General search radar is located at the rear of the turret roof and tracking radar is located between the guns. Vehicle is fitted with friend-or-foe identification system. Radar of the Gepard has a range of 15 km. It provides all-round scanning with simultaneous target tracking. Vehicle has search on the move capability. This system is also fitted with fire control system.

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