Rheinmetall contributing to Halcon air defence missile

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Rheinmetall has contributed to the United Arab Emirates’ first air defence missile, the Halcon SkyKnight.

The SkyKnight was unveiled at the IDEX show in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is described by Halcon as the first UAE-designed and manufactured counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) missile system.

EDGE Group, parent company of HALCON, has been developing a short-range air defence system, as has Germany-based Rheinmetall AG, which was actively seeking a missile system to form part of its Skynex air defence system. The companies decided to jointly offer a solution, with HALCON providing SkyKnight, the missile system to the Oerlikon Skynex Air Defence System.

Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall AG said: “Rheinmetall Air Defence’s technologies are well suited to cover the recently shown gaps in ground-based air defence against very challenging new threats. Combined with Rheinmetall Denel Munition’s capabilities in missile technology the cooperation of Rheinmetall and HALCON offers exciting new potential and a bright future.”

HALCON said its SkyKnight was purposely designed to counter the full spectrum of modern threats, providing early warning signals and precise surface-to-air intercept capabilities targeting of rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) rockets, artillery, mortar, and other fixed-wing aircraft at a range of up to 10 km.

Faisal Al Bannai, EDGE Group CEO and Managing Director, said: “SkyKnight is the UAE’s first, but will not be the last air defence missile developed by HALCON. It is one of several tremendous achievements announced as part of the nation’s aim to establish sovereign defence capabilities, and with the goal to address ever-evolving threats that are not well covered by many players in the market. We are pleased to team up with Rheinmetall, a leading player in the defence industry, for us to jointly offer the world’s most advanced and comprehensive C-RAM solution leveraging our SkyKnight missile and Rheinmetall’s Skynex solution. This collaboration is a clear message that EDGE is open to teaming up with various players to offer joint advance solutions.”

The Oerlikon Skynex air defence system comprises the Oerlikon Skynex control node, multi-sensor units (MSU) featuring active electronically scanned multi-mode radars (AMMR), multiple 35mm revolver guns RG Mk3 and HALCON’s SkyKnight C-RAM missiles and missile launchers, each of which has a capacity of 60 missiles. HALCON’s C-RAM missile is capable of tracking and neutralising numerous, multi-directional incoming targets at one time, providing protection for static assets, as well as for mobile and mechanised forces. Transportable and mobile, the system can be deployed fixed on land, sea and moving land platform.

Rheinmetall previously worked with Denel on the similar Cheetah concept, which was first unveiled at the September 2016 edition of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition. Development started in 2014, with static warhead tests in 2017 and two test shots in 2018. In 2019, Rheinmetall said final development would most likely require a launch customer.

The Cheetah was developed in partnership by Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), Denel Dynamics (DD) and Rheinmetall Air Defence and Radar Systems (ADRS). Denel Dynamics was responsible for the missile system including the seeker, guidance system etc. The complete and integrated system was being marketed by Rheinmetall Air Defence. The Cheetah missile was designed to be integrated into Rheinmetall’s Oerlikon Skynex, Skyranger, Skyshield or Skyguard gun based air defence systems, but it could theoretically be fitted to other air defence systems.

Like SkyKnight, the Cheetah was to be available in containers of up to sixty missiles and could be integrated into mobile platforms such as trucks or armoured vehicles.

SkyKnight is a new development, however, and not related to the Cheetah project.