In light of Kyiv’s desire to retaliate against Russian attacks using drones built in Iran, Germany has agreed to supply more Gepard anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine. Both pros and weaknesses of this system exist.
Actively enhancing Ukraine’s air defence capabilities is Germany
On February 8, Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Zelensky, announced that Germany had recently sent Ukraine a fresh shipment of military aid, including Gepard anti-aircraft systems.
Berlin will supply Kyiv two new Gepard anti-aircraft systems, commonly known as Cheetah (hunting leopard) tanks, and 6,000 rounds of ammo, according to Yermak on the social media platform Telegram.
Updated information as of February 12 indicates that Germany’s government has given Ukraine 32 Gepard air defence systems.
Berlin committed to sending roughly 50 Gepard vehicles to Ukraine at the end of April 2022; this is regarded as the first step in exporting “heavy weaponry” from Germany to Ukraine. In July 2022, this batch eventually made it to Ukraine.
According to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the action would “provide actual capabilities to Ukraine” and was a “big decision.”
Switzerland immediately rejected Germany’s request to re-export ammunition made in Switzerland to Gepard after the news. The Swiss side claims that this is necessary to maintain “neutrality.”
Germany is reportedly prepared to deliver seven more Gepard batteries to Ukraine, and it was announced on December 2 of last year that this shipment will arrive at the Ukrainian frontline in the spring of 2023. Seven cannons, according to the German tabloid Der Spiegel After that, the self-propelled vehicle underwent renovations before being delivered to Ukraine.
The Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a different German newspaper, cited the new German Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, as saying that air defence should be given top priority in January 2023.
Pistorius is reported to have informed German public TV ZDF during an earlier unexpected trip to Kyiv this January that Germany was committed to assisting Ukraine with its air defence capabilities.
Some Gepard characteristics, as well as its benefits and drawbacks
Gepard is a self-propelled, all-weather anti-aircraft gun that was created in the 1960s. The Krauss Maffei-Wegmann (KMW) defence company produced the weapon, which was provided to nations like Germany, Belgium, Romania, and the Netherlands.
The Gepard is adept at air defence, but it also has the ability to lower the barrel and shoot straight at ground targets.
Three crew members work on the Gepard self-propelled cannon, which has a 547km range and a top speed of 64km/h. The vehicle, according to KMW, is equipped with “advanced training and simulation” tools and has its own target tracking and reconnaissance radar system. The vehicle’s chassis is the same as that of the Leopard 1 main battle tank.
The manufacturer states that Gepard is effective against UAVs in addition to fighters, attack helicopters, and missiles (unmanned aerial vehicles).
According to Minister Pistorius, who was reported by the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “The Cheetah (or Gepard) plays a crucial role in air defence, notably in cities and in critical infrastructure… In addition to the 30 Cheetahs we have already arrived, we sent two more in January and five more soon.
Olexander Scherba, a diplomat for Ukraine, described Gepard as “outstanding” and “possibly a game changer in Ukraine’s struggle with Iranian drones” on November 3, 2022. He tweeted, “I wish we had more of these weapons.”
Gepard has gained notoriety for being able to shoot down Iranian suicide drones Shahed-131 and 136.
The Gepard short-range cannon is described as “world-class artillery” by Glen Grant, a senior defence specialist at the Baltic Security Foundation. He did point out that these are tactical, not strategic, weapons, and that they must be utilised properly and in conjunction with ground forces in order to avoid hitting targets that are out of reach.
According to Michael Knights of the Washington Foundation, Gepard anti-aircraft guns are far less expensive than interceptors for NATO and the Ukraine.