The Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer Gepard anti-aircraft cannon tank Cheetah, better known as the Flakpanzer Gepard is an all-weather-capable German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG). It was developed in the 1960s and fielded in the 1970s, and has been upgraded several times with the latest electronics. It constituted a cornerstone of the air defence of the German Army (Bundeswehr) and a number of other NATO countries. In Germany, the Gepard was phased out in late 2010 to be replaced by "SysFla", a mobile and stationary air defence system using the LFK NG missile and the new MANTIS gun system. The mobile platform of SysFla will likely be based on the GTK Boxer.
The vehicle is based on the hull of the Leopard 1 tank with a large fully rotating turret carrying the armament—a pair of 35 mm Oerlikon KDA autocannons and the two radar dishes—a general search radar at the rear of the turret and the tracking radar, and a laser rangefinder, at the front between the guns. Each gun has a firing rate of 550 rounds/min.
The guns are 90 calibres (3.15 m (10 ft 4 in)) long, with a muzzle velocity of 1,440 m/s (4,700 ft/s) (FAPDS—Frangible Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot rounds), giving an effective range of 5,500 m. The KDA autocannon can take two different ammunition types; the usual loading is a mix of 320 AA and 20 AP rounds per gun. Combined rate of fire is 1,100 rounds/min.
The electrically driven turret is powered by a 40 kW generator driven by a 4-cylinder, 3.8 litre Mercedes-Benz OM 314 multi-fuel engine.
Since the eighties, Stinger teams have been accompanying the Gepard units to take advantage of their long-range scanning capacity. To combine this capacity in a single unit, a missile system upgrade that mounts the NATO ManPad Stinger surface-to-air missile (in twin packs) to the autocannons was developed. The system was tested by the German Bundeswehr but not bought due to budget restrictions and the fielding of the Ozelot Light Flak (leFla) System.
The Dutch version was officially called the PRTL (PantserRupsTegenLuchtdoelen translating to "ArmourTrackAgainstAirtargets"), pronounced as "pruttel" (meaning 'to sputter') by the soldiers. The Dutch series version was made public through a photograph of a vehicle from a C-Company, the first to be equipped with the new weapon. Traditionally all Dutch vehicles in a company have names beginning with the company designation letter and this vehicle happened to have the individual name Cheetah painted in bold type on its turret. Inevitably the international press assumed "Cheetah" was the Dutch name for their Gepard version and this mistake found its way into most armour publications on the subject. In 2000 the Dutch military authorities, tired of constantly having to explain all this and considering "pruttle" was hardly a martial name anyway, conformed themselves to common error and made "Cheetah" the official designation, when the system was upgraded.
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Flakpanzer Gepard Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun