Anti-aircraft artillery Oerlikon GDF

Anti-aircraft artillery Oerlikon GDF

The Oerlikon GDF or Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon is a towed anti-aircraft gun made by Oerlikon Contraves (renamed as Rheinmetall Air Defence AG following the merger with Rheinmetall in 2009). The system was originally designated as 2 ZLA/353 ML but this was later changed to GDF-001. It was developed in the late 1950s and is used by around 30 countries.

Design and development

The system uses twin autocannons, firing 35×228mm NATO-standard ammunition. It was originally designated 353 MK and is now designated as the KD series. The same KD series 35mm cannons are used in the Leopard 1 based Gepard and Type 74 tank based Type 87 SPAAG and Marksman self-propelled anti-aircraft guns (SPAAG). The system could be paired with the off-gun (remote) Super Fledermaus fire control radar, which in the late 1970s was upgraded to the Skyguard system. The weapons was aimed either directly, by way of an advanced sighting system, or automatically, by locking onto the target with radar. Early models carried 112 rounds ready to fire, and an additional 126 stored on the chassis as reloads. Later versions with automated reloading carry 280 rounds total. A typical engagement burst is 28 rounds.

In 1980 an upgraded model, the GDF-002 was produced, which featured an improved sight, and the ability to be directed by an off-gun digital control system. A few years later a third version of the system was being produced, the GDF-003, which was broadly similar to the GDF-002, but included some enhancements like self-lubricating weapons and integrated protective covers.

In 1985 a further upgraded model was produced, the GDF-005, which was introduced, featuring the Gunking 3D computer-controlled sight with an integrated laser range-finder and digital control system. The GDF-005 also introduced an automated ammunition-handling system, which eliminated the need for the two reloaders, reducing the crew from 3 to 1.

The guns are usually transported by a 5-tonne 6×6 truck.

KD series cannons

Development of the KD series cannon began around 1952 soon after Oerlikon calculated that 35 mm was the optimum calibre for an anti-aircraft gun. The KD series cannons were a design adapted from the post-war 20 mm KAA 204 Gk cannon. Several designs were developed, including a water-cooled design, designated Mk 352, which was tested by the U.S. Navy. The final design was the Mk 323, which was developed in two variants, a belt-fed version the KDA, and a linkless version the KDC, fed by seven-round clips. Both designs are gas-operated, with a propped-lock locking system.

Super Fledermaus

The Super Fledermaus fire control system was designed and built by the then separate Contraves company. It consists of a four-wheeled towed trailer with an E/F band pulse doppler search radar with a range of around 15 km and a pulse doppler tracking radar operating in the J band, also with a range of 15 km. It was also used as the fire control system on the Gepard SPAAG.


The Skyguard system is contained within a towed trailer, mounted on the roof of which is a pulse doppler search radar, a pulse doppler tracking radar and a co-axial television camera. The trailer also houses the crew of two and a small petrol generator. Skyguard is an all-weather air defense system for the control of aircraft at low altitude and at low and medium altitude range up to 3,000 m. The maximum effective distance is given as 4,000 m. The system takes the air surveillance, target acquisition, calculation of the derivative-action values and the control of two Oerlikon 35 mm anti-aircraft guns. Skyguard is served by four people.

It was created by Oerlikon-Buehrle. The weapon was introduced in the 1960s in the Swiss Army and got updates in 1975, 1995 and 2010. They are still in use. It had replaced the system Contraves Super Fledermaus in the Swiss Air Force. The Skyguard radar system was used in the German Air Force for surveillance of low-altitude flight zones. The radar unit is readied quickly through the use of hydraulic systems for antenna erection and leveling after deployment. A typical fire unit using the Skyguard consists of two twin 35 mm gun platforms with a single Skyguard fire control radar.

Skyguard systems can also incorporate an optional SAM module based on the GDF’s mount and radar system but with the guns replaced by four missile canisters. It can be armed with either Aspide or RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles. In Greek service the Skyguard system with RIM-7M is known as the VELOS.


  • GDF-001 / 2 ZLA/353 MK: XABA sight
  • GDF-002: Introduced in 1980. Improved Ferranti sight and digital data bus. The gun has 112 rounds ready and 126 in reserve (238 rounds total)
  • GDF-003: Minor enhancements including protective covers and automatic weapon lubrication.
  • GDF-005: Introduced in 1985. Fitted with Gunking 3D computer-controlled sight with a laser range finder and digital fire control system. Integrated power supply and diagnostics. 280 rounds on the gun and an automatic re-loading system.
  • GDF-006: GDF-001/002/003 upgraded with AHEAD system.
  • GDF-007: GDF-005 upgraded with AHEAD system.
  • GDF-009: Unveiled at IDEF 2015, held in May 2015 in Istanbul. To date, its exterior significantly changed, although the installation has retained the design of the original serial versions of the systems.Unlike other variants, this one relies on an internal power source.The GDF-009 model is based on a four-wheeled carriage, and is raised off the ground by three stabilisers when deployed in the firing position. It also features an automatic levelling system that can compensate for a maximum tilt angle of up to 7°.Mounted on the forward part of the carriage is the integrated battery, which functions as the gun’s power supply unit and can be recharged from an external source if required.
  • AHEAD: An upgrade for the GDF series guns built around a special projectile which explodes at a pre-calculated point in front of the target, sending a cone of 152 tungsten sub-projectiles at the target. Used by Canada, Pakistan, Greece, Oman, Spain, Taiwan, and Chile (unconfirmed).
  • Gepard
  • MAA-01
  • Marksman: Self-propelled version of the system based around the Marksman turret, which could be fitted on numerous tank chassis. The only model that went into production was a version based on the T-55 chassis for Finland, seven systems in war reserve. Marksman turrets to be transferred to Leopard tank chassis.
  • Type 87: Japanese SPAAG using the system.
  • PZA Loara
  • Type 90 (PG99): Chinese licensed copy of GDF-002. The PG99 is a towed anti-aircraft gun suitable for point and coastal air defence. It is usually deployed near military bases, airfields, tunnels, islands, and along the coast to defend Sea Land of Communication (SLOC), ports, bridges and other important assets.
  • CS/SA1: Chinese upgrade of GDF-002. Mounted on the 6×6 SX2190 truck, the PG99 (CS/SA1) is a self-propelled variant of the Type 90 35 mm AA system, previously available only as a towed AA piece.
  • Type 09 SPAAA
  • Samavat
  • Amoun: Egyptian version of Skyguard & Sparrow SAM.


Mass 6,700 kg (14,800 lb) (with ammunition)
Length 7.8 m (25 ft 7 in) (travelling)
Barrel length 3.15 m (10 ft 4 in) (barrel)
Width 2.26 m (7 ft 5 in) (travelling)
Height 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) (travelling)
Crew 3

Shell Complete round: 35×228mm, 1.565 kg (3 lb 7 oz)
Caliber 35 mm (1.4 in)
Action Gas-operated[2]
Carriage 4 wheels with outriggers
Elevation −5°/+92°
Traverse Full 360°
Rate of fire 550 rounds/min (per barrel)
Muzzle velocity 1,175 m/s (3,850 ft/s) (HEI-T)
Effective firing range Ceiling: 4,000 m (13,000 ft)
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