Skyshield SHORAD – Like NORAD Only More Flak!

If and when the machine overlords decide to take over the planet, the Skyshield will likely be their air defense weapon of choice. The Skyshield, a modular and potentially mobile air defense system, has been developed by Switzerland’s Oerlikon Contraves Air Defense, to protect critical assets. The SHORAD system, or SHOrt Range Air Defense system is a combination of sensor nodes and weapons emplacements.

For sensors, the system uses a combination of radar, laser, and visual sensors to track incoming targets. Various sensor units are fully networked capable together and with the weapons, platforms to create a solid defensive wall for incoming aerial threats including drones, planes, and even potentially missiles.

Weapons include an utterly mesmerizing 35mm automatic flak cannon, capable of rapidly spewing rounds all electronically detonated creating a wall of flak that would give even World War 2 bomber crews the willies. When combined together with missiles, the weapons platforms are an attacker’s worst defensive nightmare. The 35mm cannons are rated for 1,000 rounds per minute.

The Oerlikon Skyshield was recently tested against a drone to devastating results. The video shows the drone being detected, tracked, and ultimately engaged. Just two weapon’s short bursts bring the drone crashing down.

Just the “base” system used by the German army includes six fully automated turrets. That’s a whole lot of flak…





Frank.K

TFB’s FNG. Completely irreverent of all things marketing but a passionate lover of new ideas and old ones well executed. Enjoys musing on all things firearms, shooting 3-gun, and attempting to be both tacticool AND tactical.


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  • Vhyrus

    For some reason the title cracked me up.

  • Major Tom

    This thing is gonna be so last century when railguns reach operational status rather than experimental/evaluation.

    • Koh

      I’ve been watching that program for over 20 years. I’m not holding my breath.

    • Vhyrus

      The problem is a combination of efficient energy storage, heat dissipation, and capacitor design. It’s hard to make capacitors that big that won’t melt everything the moment they discharge.

      • Koh

        Don’t forget simple mechanical forces. The force propelling the projectile between the rails is also trying to push the rails apart.

        Another problem is abrasion & ablation of the sabot (which is the armature in electrical terms) and the rails. The sabot has to carry the full current flow between the rails (this is how the Lorentz force is generated) while it is moving. It has to make contact between both rails, while accelerating very hard, and surviving high currents. If any part of that fails there is an arc that will blast away metal with plasma, and even if there is no contact failure, there is friction wear to deal with, which is enhanced by the materials getting very hot from the amount of energy they are carrying. Without some kind of tremendous material breakthrough (like room-temp super conductors) barrel life is going to be extremely limited.

        I love the concept, but much like nuclear fusion, we know what makes it work, but being able to do it consistently and safety in any practical application is still beyond current science. I became away of the USN program when I was taking physics courses (part of my engineering degree) in the early 1990s. They haven’t made much progress, it is still a glorified lab experiment.

        • noob

          Have a magazine full of spare rails and eject the whole rail unit like spent brass 😛

        • n0truscotsman

          I would like to see how they intend on powering on the things. Them or lasers. Such a proposed technology could potentially solve the energy crisis, let alone launch sabots at hypervelocity. Or make unparalleled breakthroughs in materials science.

          Im not optimistic.

    • noob

      the weapons are just end-effectors on the system. if you have a really good Interface Control Document you can unplug the autocannon and plug in a rail gun, directed energy weapon etc.

      If mil-spec wasn’t about job security, I’d get it to talk in gcode like a computer controlled milling machine. boom- plugin anything you want.

      • Phillip Cooper

        This is why we have the OSI Network Model!

    • valorius

      lasers will, in fact HAVE come, before rail guns ever will.

      • Major Tom

        The US Navy has an operational prototype they intend to try out on ships next year. The one operational laser in the Navy isn’t very effective but is proof of concept that lasers can damage materiel targets and threats such as some missiles, small boats and drones.

      • Phillip Cooper

        You do realize we are launching aircraft by railgun already, right?

        • valorius

          You realize we’re shooting missiles down by laser with operational systems aboard USN destroyers, namely the AN/SEQ-3 LAWS.

          Whereas the Ford Class carrier’s EMALS cat requires the power of a high output nuclear propulsion plant, and is not even operational yet. The EMALS will not even be retrofitted to Nimitz nuclear carriers because they can’t produce enough power to operate it.

          Lasers have been in the fleet at sea since Dec 2014.

          • Phillip Cooper

            They do, however, require an expensive, bulky energy system.

          • valorius

            Compared to a nuclear reactor?

    • ARCNA442

      Lasers > Railguns for short range air defense and Missiles are better for long range (unless the projectiles have a really good guidance system). I’m really not seeing railguns being anything more than a small upgrade for normal artillery work.

      • Major Tom

        Railguns > lasers in raw firepower and can operate in any weather without significant performance loss. Fire a laser in the rain, snow or fog and your range drops significantly owing to dispersion and bloom from the weather effects.

        And forget about running a laser during a sandstorm like in the Middle East (or Arizona).

        Plus railgun velocities can be so high that you don’t need to rely on rapid fire to achieve a hit against an airborne target. And if simply one projectile hits, there’s not an airplane in existence that won’t basically vaporize after impact from raw kinetic energy.

        • ARCNA442

          All true, but look at how they will be used. With the lethality of modern air defenses, no plane is going to be flying within range of SHORADS except by accident – it all going to be missiles and glide bombs. In that environment the engagement speed, accuracy, and unlimited ammo of lasers will be more important than raw destructive power.

          The range advantage of railguns is also a moot point against anything but ballistic targets unless they develop a guidance package that is both better than anything ever used for conventional artillery and capable of surviving vastly higher acceleration.

          • Madcap_Magician

            I think the video actually posits something interesting there- no plane might fly into range of non-degraded ADA systems, but armed drones might.

    • FarmerB

      Yeah, it will be so last century, but that’s because it’ll take ’em another 100 years to field a practical, mobile rail gun that is capable of rapid fire. Lasers maybe.

    • n0truscotsman

      They will remain in experimental/evaluation status for the next 50 years until human industrial civilization dies out just like fusion, lasers, and other woomeister mil tech pr0n.

      If our defense industry made sense (ha), they would be focusing on existing gun and missile tech.

      • Major Tom

        Until they’re adopted that is. People thought lasers were the realm of pure sci-fi and little more than curiosities or industrial tools….until the Navy put one on one of its ships.

        The same will be true of railguns. The Navy plans to put one on a ship next year.

        Either the US Navy is the most forward thinking organization on the planet in regards to technological development, or everybody who detracts lasers and railguns are seriously underrating their potentials and how close they are to reality.

        • n0truscotsman

          The people who dismiss lasers have very logical reasons for doing so, and the scientific background/qualifications for dismissing them. theyre not just defense wonk dudes like myself.

          Lasers and railguns have been 5-10 years away for quite a while now (another commentator from another thread mentioned 90 years. Doing some digging, thats no exaggeration and quite astonishing), so yeah, color me a bit skeptical.

          The US military is no stranger to pursuing white buffalo, pissing away billions that could be spent on more workable technologies.

  • Dougscamo

    Skynet?

    • noob

      that’s the name of a real british satellite network, which unfortunately is not very sentient. yet.

      • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

        Unfortunately?

        • noob

          sometimes I wonder if a truly sentient military AI would realize we’re about to blow up that it lives on and decide to hack the command and control for the strategic arms on both sides and say “Hey guys, you might have a death wish but I live here too!”

          A nonsentient tool will just fire when you press the trigger, even if it is pointing at your planet. Right now the only judgement in the system are people like Major Harold L. Hering (USAF), LtCol Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov (Soviet Air Defense Forces) and VAdm Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov (Soviet Navy) who all questioned their launch orders and more or less prevented nuclear war. Maj Hering is an odd case, where he questioned whether he could determine if a valid launch order was coming from a sane president or not and was punished severely for asking that question.

          • Dougscamo

            Is that you VIKI?

  • 22winmag

    Firearms not Politics and Autocannons.

    • Brett baker

      Autocannons are firearms.

      • noob

        but firearms we can’t own and keep in our safe. If I can afford a safe that big, I’d like to use a 40mm for hog hunting, just because.

    • No one

      Firearms not Politics and 22winmag’s posts ever.

      (An autocannon is a large firearm champ.)

    • TDog

      Hey, dude! Autocannons need love just like black powder guns, airguns, and rubber band guns!

      Okay… I lied… air guns suck. ;-D

    • ARCNA442

      Yeah, this sort of goes beyond the scope of TFB and doesn’t even give us any interesting information.

    • mechamaster

      It’s Destructive-device category.
      ( NFA sux )

  • Brett baker

    Am I the only one who never sees a wall of anti-radiation missiles flying ahead of the drones in these ads?

    • noob

      it becomes a duel – can my autocannon hit your anti-radiation HARM missile? robots killing robots for another man’s war.

    • Kivaari

      That’s probably why it goes to both laser and optical tracking.

    • Koh

      That radar as an active electronically scanned array with low probability of intercept. Similar (but much larger) to the radar used my the F-22 and B-2 bombers (and other modern planes). They randomly switch between frequencies to make them much harder to detect, and much harder for an anti-radiation missile to home in on.

      • Brett baker

        Assuming “near peer” opposition , how close are we to a muti-freuqency sidearm type weapon? Send out your “reaper”, get aquired and launch on detection
        Oh wait,Green Hell will just infil with a SVDK-S and take it out from 30000 meters.

  • noob

    so in california do those autocannon come with a 10rd magazine?

  • TDog

    How much for the semi-auto civvie version?

  • valorius

    If it’s networked it will just kill us like the rest of the machines.

    • I am not having a frakkin’ networked computer on my ship!

      • valorius

        Damn right Commander Adama.

  • gunsandrockets

    Geez! Those 35mm cannon turrets are huge! The size of an Abrams tank turret, but without any of the armor.

    The smoke cloud generated by the automatic cannon bursts are very impressive too. No mistaking those fire locations by sight after they let rip.

    The fixed turret installation seems odd. Even for fixed base air-defenses, wouldn’t it make more tactical sense to use a vehicle mounted turret so the cannons could displace to different locations around the area? Or are they too twitchy a system for ground mobility?

    • noob

      the Thales RAPID Mobile integrated Weapon systems air defense system sells mobile solutions (like the gun, missile and radar inclusive solution they sold to Indonesia) but for demo purposes they like to put them up on concrete blocks to show that you can integrate it with whatever trucks your military likes to use and has already bought a lot of.

      Think of it like selling a rifle accessory attachment by displaying it on a blue gun.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/52b48a357be1f199a50cecb13fca39f4d2a667b3f996336a85c8c757dad03406.jpg

  • LCON

    I need this for flying reindeer hunting season.

    • nadnerbus

      I’m interested in one of these for home defense, but I’m worried about over-penetration.

      Thoughts?

      • Major Tom

        Proximity fuzed airbursting ammo.

        • noob

          Lawgiver for home defense? You could defend a megacity with that.

  • Kivaari

    I wonder what that drone cost?

  • James

    And….it’s gone.

  • Koh

    What will really mess with your head is that these are a 35mm (1.4″) autocannon, each round weighs close to 3.5 pounds, these are a gas-operated revolver, they fire bursts at 1000 rounds per minute for burst, and they reload from a magazine full of ammo on clips. Yes, CLIPS. You can see them sliding one in at 0:32.

  • Paveway

    So…. welcome to 1980? Maybe 1985 if my dates are off…

  • mechamaster

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/26cbbecbabd6df4cffcd2aadb0a73f99dd9dd11c1c5cf6279f73046e1ef0c803.jpg

    No, Skynet will dominantly utilized some High-Energy Laser derivative too.
    ” Why you brrrrtt! When you can pew-pew ? ” Of course Electromagnetic-AA Railgun like the Blitzer-railgun will become their choice too.

  • RavishedBoy

    Hitting a plane speeding 47 m/s?
    Is that a test?

  • CharlesH

    I’ll take 10

  • Goody

    SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED