Air defense / Anti-aircraft guns / GDF

GDF

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Towed anti-aircraft gun

  • ORIGIN
    Switzerland

  • NICKNAMES
    Skyguard (system incl Skyguard radar)
    ZLA/353 MK (early designation)
    35 ItK 88 (Finland)
    3.5cm Zwillings FlAMK 75 bzw 79 (Austria)

  • DESIGNED
    Late 1950's

  • DESIGNER
    Oerlikon Contraves

  • PRODUCTION
    1960's - present

  • PRODUCERS
    China - Norinco
    Japan - Mitsubishi
    Switzerland - Oerlikon Contraves (now Rheinmetall DeTec)
    Turkey - MKEK-Cansas

  • QUANTITY
    Over 2.000 since the year 2000

  • UNIT COST
    Unknown

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Very good firepower
    Good effective range
    Fire control integration
    Large and heavy
    Expensive system and ammunition
    Limited quality fire control in early systems

Introduction

The GDF is an anti-aircraft gun of Swiss origin. It was developed in the late 1950's by Oerlikon Contraves and is also referred to as the Skyguard system. The GDF is easily recognizeable by its powerful twin 35mm autocannon. The majority of GDF are used in conjucntion with the Super Fledermaus or Skyguard radar systems to improve their performance. In the latter configuration surface to air missiles may also be used alongside the GDF to increase the engagement enveloppe.

Layout

The GDF is a large anti-aircraft gun that is based around the powerful 35mm KDA autocannon. Two KDA are mounted side by side with the ammunition is housed on both sides on a turntable on a four wheel carriage. Early models have a crewmember on each side to feed the guns, later models feature automated loading. In the firing position jacks and outriggers are lowered and the wheels collapse inwards. Targeting is done manually by a gunner using advanced sights or by data provided by Super Fledermaus or Skyguard radars.

Firepower

The GDF fires the 35x228mm NATO round. Each KDA autocannon has a cyclic rate of fire of 550 rpm, combining to 1.100 rpm. In a typtical engagement 28 rounds are fired. The original models have 112 round ready to fire and an additional 126 on the carriage. The models with automated loading carry 280 rounds. The maximum effective range is about 4 km, but differs per ammunition type and target type and flight pattern. The GDF may also be used against ground targets with devastating effects.

Mobility

The GDF is based on a large four wheel carriage and is normally towed by a 6x6 truck. The GDF-005 has an onboard APU and older models require a seperate generator. The crew, ammunition and additional equipment may be carried on the truck that tows the GDF or radar. The emplacement and displacement time is 1.5 minutes. In case of emergency the GDF may be fired in travel mode.

Users

The GDF is a very succesful design and large quantities have been exported and some are produced under license. Over 2.000 units have been sold to over 30 nations. Although it can be considered an old weapon system various upgrades have ensured it remains one of the most capable towed anti-aircraft guns today. The GDF is in use with various Western nations and is also common in Asia and the Middle East.

Variants

GDF-001

The GDF is a towed two barrel 35mm anti-aircraft cannon. The system is based on a 4 wheel carriage with four outriggers. The crew consists of a single gunner and two ammunition handlers. Power is supplied by an external source. The GDF-001 was the original version and was equipped with the XABA sight. The GDF-002 features the GSR sight. The GDF-003 improves on maintenance.

TypeTowed anti-aircraft gun
Crew3 (1 gunner, 2 loaders)
Ordnance35x228mm KDA L/90 autocannon (2x), 124 rounds ready to fire plus 126 rounds on carriage
Elevation-5 to +92°, 56°/s
Traverse360°, 112°/s
Rate of fire550 rpm cyclic (per barrel)
Range3.2 km vs aircraft, 4 km vs ground targets
Carriage4 wheel carriage with two outriggers and two jacks, 3.8 m wheelbase, 1.9 m track, 0.33 m ground clearance
Weight6.3 t (empty), 6.7 t (loaded)
Length7.8 m (travelling), 8.83 m (firing position)
Width2.26 m (travelling), 4.49 m (firing position)
Height2.6 m (travelling), 1.72 m (firing position)
Towing vehicle6x6 truck
Speed80 km/ on roads
RemarksXABA sight on GDF-001, GSA Mark 3 sight on GDF-002/003, external power required

GDF-005

The GDF-005 is similar to the GDF-003 but is fitted with a new sight, an auxiliary power unit and automated ammunition handling. The Gunking computer controlled optronic sighting system automatically calculates range and lead for the operator. The automatic ammunition handling reduces the crew from 3 to 1.

TypeTowed anti-aircraft gun
Crew1
Ordnance35x228mm KDA L/90 autocannon (2x), 280 rounds ready to fire
Elevation-5 to +92°, 56°/s
Traverse360°, 112°/s
Rate of fire550 rpm cyclic (per barrel)
Range4.0 km vs aircraft
Carriage4 wheel carriage with two outriggers and two jacks, 3.8 m wheelbase, 1.9 m track, 0.33 m ground clearance
Weight6-7 t
Length?
Width?
Height?
Towing vehicle6x6 truck
Speed80 km/ on roads
RemarksGunking sight, APU fitted for powered elevation and traverse

AHEAD

The older GDF series and GDF-005 can be upgraded with the AHEAD system that improves combat performance. The 35mm AHEAD rounds contain steel sub-munitions and are time fused when leaving the barrel. The GDF-006 is an older version upgraded to AHEAD standards and the GDF-007 is an upgraded GDF-005.

TypeTowed anti-aircraft gun
Crew1
Ordnance35x228mm KDA L/90 autocannon (2x), 280 rounds ready to fire
Elevation-5 to +92°, 56°/s
Traverse360°, 112°/s
Rate of fire550 rpm cyclic (per barrel)
Range4.0 km vs aircraft
Carriage4 wheel carriage with two outriggers and two jacks, 3.8 m wheelbase, 1.9 m track, 0.33 m ground clearance
Weight6-7 t
Length?
Width?
Height?
Towing vehicle6x6 truck
Speed80 km/ on roads
RemarksGunking sight, APU fitted for powered elevation and traverse

Type 90

The Type 90 is a Chinese copy of the GDF-002. The Type 90 differs in various minor details, but performance is similar. In Chinese service the indigenious Type 902 radar system is used. This radar system is believed to be based on the Swiss Skyguard radar and externally it looks similar.

TypeTowed anti-aircraft gun
Crew3 (1 gunner, 2 loaders)
Ordnance35x228mm KDA L/90 autocannon (2x)
Elevation-5 to +92°, 56°/s
Traverse360°, 112°/s
Rate of fire550 rpm cyclic (per barrel)
Range3.2 km vs aircraft, 4 km vs ground targets
Carriage4 wheel carriage with two outriggers and two jacks, 3.8 m wheelbase, 1.9 m track, 0.33 m ground clearance
Weight8 t
Length?
Width?
Height?
Towing vehicle6x6 truck
Speed80 km/ on roads
RemarksGSA Mark 3 sight, external power required

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