Wednesday, February 1, 2023

‘Buy Back’ Cheetahs! German MP Wants To Recall Gepard Anti-Aircraft Guns From Qatar & Divert Them To Ukraine

As Russia continues to rain hell on Ukrainian cities with its high-explosive bombs and missile & drone strikes, there are calls in Germany to send more Gepard or Cheetah anti-aircraft self-propelled guns to Kyiv to bolster its defense.

In a recent communication, German MP Roderich Kizewetter proposed “buying back” the 15 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (SZU) that were earlier sold to Qatar and redirecting it to Ukraine instead. Kieswetter is the former Bundeswehr general staff officer and politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

“The Qatari Cheetah tanks are currently not needed there and are in operational condition, so I would find a buyback very good. We should do everything that can contribute to Ukraine’s victory,” Kiesewetter told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The Bundeswehr has already shipped 30 Cheetah systems to Ukraine. Criticizing the ammunition sent for this system to Kyiv, Kiesewetter said, “The Cheetah has proven itself in action and was often used very efficiently at the beginning to combat ground targets.”

Flakpanzer Gepard - Wikipedia
Flakpanzer Gepard – Wikipedia

The statement comes at a time when the Russians have launched a renewed missile attack on the east of Ukraine. On January 14, Moscow’s Tu-22M 3 bombers launched five Kh-22 missiles and struck a residential building at Dnipro, killing several people.

It has also been announced that Germany will deliver Ukraine 300,000 ammunition for Gepard SPAAG by the middle of next year. The production of the first batch of ammunition should be completed in June or July.

In December, a German government website stated that the country was preparing to deliver seven Gepard tanks to Ukraine, over and above the 30 air-defense tanks already being used to fight the Russians.

At the time, German publication Spiegel had reported that the seven Gepard tanks, initially destined for the scrap heap, were being repaired by Munich-based arms manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and are expected to arrive in Ukraine in the spring of 2023.

The government had not provided an estimated delivery date for the tanks, which it claimed were pulled from manufacturer inventories. Notably, these deliveries sometimes depend on continuing maintenance or production, which may cause delays.

Supply of ammunition for the Gepard has proven problematic as Switzerland, which has stocks of ammunition, refused to supply it due to its neutrality. Subsequently, the defense ministry said that the government was in discussions with several producers about trying to acquire more ammunition and may potentially reach a point where Switzerland was no longer required.

Given the difficulties in procurement, it may be significant to note that Kiesewetter’s proposal to buy back the Gepards from Qatar could have been influenced by it. He said, “This makes it all the more important that Germany not only asks for more Cheetahs in Qatar but above all for ammunition,” asserting that the tanks would bring nothing for Ukraine without ammunition.

German Cheetah’s Roaring In Ukraine

Ukraine has employed the Gepard to shoot down everything from Russian cruise missiles to Iranian-made Shahed suicide drones.

In front-line brigade air-defense battalions, a Gepard and an Osa can be seen in a video that surfaced online in September. The 18-ton wheeled Osa can fire missiles up to nine miles afar and eight miles high using electro-optical and radar guidance. The Osa can first neutralize airborne threats at a relatively long distance, and the Gepard can kill any lingering threats.

The Gepard can launch streams of 35-millimeter rounds three miles afar when outfitted with its radar. The two vehicles might complement one another, said experts.

The anti-aircraft weapon has undergone numerous electronic improvements over the years. The Gepard has a two-person turret with two 35mm Oerlikon Contraves KDA cannons and is built on the tracked Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank (MBT) chassis.

 

The Gepard was also delivered to the Netherlands and Belgium. In addition, Brazil, Chile, Jordan, Romania, and Qatar are among the countries that still use self-propelled anti-aircraft guns.

The Gepard is equipped with independent search and tracking radars, with the former located at the front and back of the turret and the latter at the back and front. The radars enable search while moving, 360-degree scanning, target monitoring, clutter suppression, and mono-pulse tracking while also working in 360-degree scanning mode.

Twin Oerlikon KDA, 35mm cannons, are placed on the Gepard and are controlled by a two-person electric power system. The weapons have a belt feed that operates automatically. The barrel is 90 calibers in length (3,150mm).

Gepard Cheetah 35mm self propelled anti aircraft tracked armored vehicle Germany line drawing 925 001
Gepard Cheetah 35mm self-propelled anti-aircraft tracked armored vehicle Germany line drawing.

The two barrels fire at a pace of 1,100 rounds per minute. Twenty rounds of anti-ground target ammunition and 320 rounds of anti-air ammunition are included with each 35mm cannon. Further, the muzzle velocity of the FAPDS rounds is greater than 1,400 meters per second. Eight smoke dischargers are located on either side of the turret of the Gepard.

The system has been described as “very successful” by the RUSI assessment against the tiny, sluggish, and low-flying Shahed-136 drones that Russia has been using quite frequently since mid-September. As the missile and drone strikes intensify in months, Ukraine would do well with additional Gepards and other cutting-edge air defense systems.

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