Gepard anti-aircraft cannon tank

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Anti-aircraft tank Gepard 1A2
Gepard 1A2 anti-aircraft cannon tank
General properties
crew 3 (driver, gunner, commander)
length 7.68 m (length with turret in 12 o'clock position)
width 3.27 m
height 3.29 m (radar retracted)
Weight 47.5 t
Armor and armament
Armor conventional armor steel
Main armament 2 x 35 mm L / 90 automatic cannon Oerlikon-KDA
with 2 x 320 cartridges FAPDS
(against air and ground targets lightly armored)
and 2 x 20 cartridges HVAPDS T
(against heavily armored ground targets)
Self protection Smoke throwing system
drive 10-cylinder 37.4 liter multi-fuel engine MTU MB 838 CaM-500
with 2 mechanical superchargers
610 kW (830 PS)
suspension Torsion bar
Top speed around 65 km / h (road)
Power / weight 12.8 kW / t
Range around 550 km (road)
Ground clearance 0.50 m

The Gepard anti-aircraft cannon tank (FlakPz Gepard) is an autonomous, all-weather anti-aircraft tank made in Germany . Developed and produced as early as the 1970s, it formed a cornerstone of the air defense system of the armed forces of the Bundeswehr and other countries for a long time . When it was decommissioned in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was no longer operated by any of the original users. The anti-aircraft tanks have since been passed on to other armies.


Gepard B2 accompanied Leopard 1 during the NATO maneuver REFORGER 1985

The cheetah was primarily developed to protect the mobile armored and armored infantry troops of the German Armed Forces against low-flying aircraft and combat helicopters in the tactical context of combined arms combat . In terms of battlefield mobility and engine power, it has comparable properties to the Leopard 1 , Marder and Jaguar tanks used at the time or in development . The cheetah was also used to protect stationary high-quality targets such as airfields or bridges. According to the deployment doctrine of the Cold War , it can be deployed under full NBC protection.

The choice of armament particularly took into account the fight against heavily armored attack helicopters such as the Mil Mi-24 "Hind" , whose armor provides effective protection against projectiles up to caliber 23 millimeters (mm).

The cheetah was delivered to other NATO member states such as the Netherlands , Belgium and most recently Romania . The Soviet counterpart to the cheetah was the air defense system ZSU-23-4 "Schilka" , which was developed a decade earlier and did not achieve the performance of the cheetah in the areas of target acquisition, fire control and target fighting while driving. Other Soviet counterparts are the 2K22 Tunguska from the 1980s and the more modern Panzir-S1 system, although the two represent combined systems with tube and missile armament. Even more than 30 years after its first commissioning, there is no equivalent to the cheetah , especially in western countries .

History and variants


The development of the cheetah goes back to studies on the "Flakpanzer 2" up to 1965. It was intended to directly replace the US M42 Duster , which, due to the lack of radar, could only fight visually detectable targets.

In 1967/68 there were various studies and development projects, including by Bofors with a 40 mm twin cannon. Rheinmetall (armament and tower), AEG-Telefunken ( follow-up radar and computer), Siemens ( search radar ) and Porsche (development and tower) applied for the Matador model , armed with two 30 mm cannons . A competing model came from the Oerlikon-Contraves-Albis group and was equipped with a 35-mm twin cannon. Although the 35 mm caliber was unusual at the time, it quickly became apparent in comparison that it had a lower development risk and clear advantages in fire fighting due to the larger caliber; the Dutch army also showed an interest in the 35 mm system. After delays in the development of the Matador and because of the tight budget situation, the Ministry of Defense decided on June 25, 1970 to discontinue the Matador program. The further development now took place on the basis of the 35 mm Oerlikon twin cannon and the follow-up radar from the Matador project as FlakPz 35 mm, which officially operated under the name Gepard in the Bundeswehr from 1973 .


Anti-aircraft tank Gepard

The anti-aircraft tank was built in a joint project, with Krauss-Maffei being the general contractor for series production and responsible for the chassis. Oerlikon Contraves from Zurich (now part of Rheinmetall Defense ) was entrusted with developing the entire system for series production . Other companies manufactured components in the following work packages: Blohm + Voss in Hamburg supplied the tower and tank housing, Siemens-Albis manufactured the fire control system as well as radar devices and Contraves the fire control computer. Wegmann took on the final production of the tower , who delivered it to Krauss-Maffei for final assembly.

First four prototypes (designation B ) were built, the following fifth prototype (designation C ) was intended for the Netherlands and was equipped with a Dutch search radar. In 1973 the Bundeswehr ordered a further twelve pre-production models (designation B1 and B2R ) of the Gepard, which had modified radar systems (different search radar and pulse Doppler follow -up radar), and in the same year 420 series models (designation B2 ). On December 16, 1976, the first cheetah was handed over to the Army Air Defense Force of the Bundeswehr. A total of 432 Cheetah FlakPz were delivered to the Bundeswehr from 1976 to October 1980, which equipped eleven anti-aircraft regiments with 36 FlakPz each. The regiments at that time consisted of six firing batteries with six tanks each.

The Dutch army ordered another five pre-production models (designation CA ) with modified search radar (manufactured by Philips ) in 1973 and then 95 production models (designation CA1 to CA3 ), which were delivered from 1977 to 1979.

In April 1973 the Belgian army decided not to buy the Dutch version CA1 , but the cheaper German version B2 . On May 21, 1973 Krauss-Maffei submitted the tender documents, which were accepted on December 19, 1973. On April 4, 1974, 55 cheetahs in the configuration of the Bundeswehr were ordered without ever having received their own prototype. 27 of them were equipped with laser rangefinders. The deliveries took place from December 1976 to February 1980.

The complexity of the Gepard through its electronics, radar and fire control systems becomes clear when compared to the purchase price of a Leopard 1 A4, which was around 1.7 million DM in 1976 , while the Gepard B2 cost 5.4 million DM.

Anti-aircraft tank Gepard B2L

Combat value increases

From 1988 onwards, 206 Bundeswehr tanks were equipped with a laser rangefinder and were given the designation B2L . From 1997 to 2000, 147 of these FlakPz were subjected to a service life extension (NDV) after the increase in combat value for the Gepard 2 turned out to be too expensive. The Netherlands also took part in the NDV with 60 vehicles that were identical except for the radar system, radio equipment and the guidance system.

At the Bundeswehr it included the installation of improved digital computers for the fire control system, measures to ensure the availability, the connection to the Army Air Defense Reconnaissance and Combat Management System ( HFlaAFüSys ) with the installation of improved data radio devices of the type SEM 93 (transmitter / receiver module 93), and in particular the procurement of the new FAPDS ammunition with a much greater range and higher muzzle velocity.

The name is now FlakPz Gepard 1A2. In accordance with the structural planning of the Bundeswehr, a reduced number of 85 Gepard 1A2s was planned as the core of the air defense beyond 2015 until the planned air defense system was to be introduced into the troops. Due to the savings measures taken by the German armed forces, the phase out, that is, decommissioning, began in 2010. The fact that Germany's significantly smaller NATO partners, such as Romania, have a system like Gepard in service, but that the type of weapon in Germany has completely disappeared when it was decommissioned, has since been criticized in some places at the political level.

Overview of the variants

Germany and Belgium

designation description Explanation
A. Prototype 1st gen. SR: X-Band, FR: Frequency Diversity Ku-Band first prototypes
B. Prototype 2nd gen. SR: S-band Prototypes with modified search radar
B1 Pre-series FR: Pulse Doppler, Conical Scan Ku-Band Pre-series model with pulse Doppler follow-up radar
B2R Pre-series FR: Pulse Doppler, Monopulse Ku-Band Pre-production model with modified pulse Doppler follow-up radar
B2 Series 1. Lot SR: S-band optimized Production version of the cheetah
B2L B2 series with laser rangefinder Version of the Gepard after installing the laser rangefinder
2 FlakPz improved in combat value planned version of the cheetah after the combat value increase (not introduced)
1A2 B2L ​​after service life extension (NDV) last version of the cheetah in the Bundeswehr after the NDV


designation description Explanation
C. Prototype SR: X-Band, integr. MTI, FR: Pulse Doppler X-Band Prototype of the cheetah for the Netherlands
CA Pre-series SR: modular structure Pre-production version with modified radar configuration
CA1 Series FR: Pulse Doppler X-Band, Pulse Ka-Band Production version of the Dutch Cheetah
GWI CA1 after extension of service life last version of the Cheetah according to the NDV

SR = search radar, FR = follow-up radar, MTI = moving target indication

Structure and systems


The Gepard engine with lifting gear, in the foreground the exhaust system with the addition of fresh air

The Gepard is based on an only slightly modified chassis of the Leopard 1 battle tank, from which the complete drive unit with the 37.4  liter 10-cylinder multi-fuel engine (type: MB 838 CaM-500 ) was taken over by MTU with two  mechanical loaders . The engine, built as a V-engine with a cylinder angle of 90 degrees, has an output of 610 kW (830 hp) at 2200 rpm and, depending on the nature of the surface and the driving style, consumes around 150 liters per 100 km (l / 100 km). In order to guarantee a constant oil supply even in difficult terrain and in extreme inclines, the engine is equipped with a dry sump pressure circulation lubrication . The transmission (type:  4 HP-250 ) from ZF Friedrichshafen and the exhaust system with the addition of fresh air to reduce the infrared signature were also taken over from the Leopard 1.

In the place of the second ammunition magazine of the main battle tank, however, the additional motor (ZM) for the energy supply system (EVA) was installed in the front left of the hull. The 4-cylinder diesel engine from Daimler-Benz (type: OM 314 ) is also designed as a multi-fuel engine, has an engine capacity of 3.8 l and has an output of 66 kW (90 hp) and, depending on the status of the tank, consumes between 10 and 20 liters per Hour (l / h). The ZM is coupled with a transfer case on which a total of five generators are operated at different speeds: Two Metadyn machines in tandem with a flywheel (which is used as energy storage for the acceleration and braking of the tower) for the power supply of the vertical and vertical drives, two 380 Hz - three-phase generators with a power of 20 kVA for ventilation, fire control and radar equipment, and a 300-a-28-V DC generator for the electrical system. The Gepard's tank capacity is 985 liters and is sufficient for a combined use of around 48 hours.

The chassis and crawler belt were taken directly from the Leopard 1. It is a torsion bar sprung support roller drive with seven pairs of rollers. They are connected to the torsion bars via swing arms, the deflection of which is limited by frustoconical springs. However, the shock absorbers were changed compared to the Leopard 1 in order to achieve better stability during fire fighting. A living end connector chain (type: D 640 A ) made by Diehl and fitted with rubber bearings and equipped with chain pads serves as the chain , i.e. the chain links are connected to one another with a certain pretension by the bolts with which the individual links are connected to one another, are encased in the sockets with rubber.

The modification of the tub is evident, among other things, in a changed track roller spacing, i.e. an 8 cm larger distance between the third and fourth rollers, and the relocation of the batteries to additional battery boxes at the rear. The 12-volt batteries are connected in a combination of a series and a parallel connection and thus feed the on-board network with 24 volts direct current .

The hull itself is made of welded armored steel and has only one layer of armor . While the front armor is 70 mm thick and, thanks to the 30 degree incline, corresponds to a penetration length of 140 mm, the side, bottom and rear armor is only between 20 and 30 mm thick. The combat and engine room is separated from each other by a transverse bulkhead for reasons of fire protection. Due to the use of a hull originally developed for a main battle tank, the armor in the area of ​​the hull is still unusually strong for an anti-aircraft tank, which is evident from the comparatively high total weight, which is still higher than that of the Leopard 1.

Driver's hatch with closed driver's protective grille, three corner mirrors and the MLC identification

The driver of the cheetah sits in the front right in the tub. If the cheetah drives with the hatch and driver's protective grille open, the rotation of the tower is blocked for safety reasons, but the driver has the best view. When the driver safety gate is closed, the driver's view is restricted, but the cheetah is fully operational. When the hatch is closed, the driver has to orientate himself using three corner mirrors . The middle of the corner mirrors can be replaced by a residual light amplifier , which enables the cheetah to be moved at night without dipped headlights or camouflage light .

The filters of the NBC protection and ventilation system, which are built into the tub in front of the additional motor, are accessible from the driver's seat. The ventilation draws in the outside air and directs it through various filters (including activated carbon ) into the interior. The protection system creates an overpressure in the tank to prevent the uncontrolled influx of potentially contaminated outside air and enables a period of use of up to 48 hours under full NBC protection. As part of the service life extension, the ventilation system was supplemented by a 10 kW air conditioning system, which can be used up to an outside temperature of 46 ° C.


The configured as a two-man turret tower weighs about 15 tons of ammunition. He is lightly armored and protects against shrapnel and rifle ammunition, but by machine guns , shaped-charge munitions or kinetic energy projectiles penetrate easily. The tower carries the complete weapons and radar systems, the electronics with the fire control computer and the entire stock of ammunition. The commander (left seat) and the gunner (right seat) sit shoulder to shoulder next to each other in the direction of travel.

View of the turret from the rear left with the gun

Due to its mission, which includes fighting low-level aircraft and helicopters, the turret and the weapons are very dynamic and, unlike most tanks, are therefore not driven hydraulically, but rather via metadynes ( Ward-Leonard converters ) by very powerful electric motors. The electrical energy from the generators and control signals are transferred to the tower via slip rings from the manufacturer Schleifring und Apparatebau .

Gepard anti-aircraft cannon tank from above
Cheetah inside gunner

The turret can be rotated 360 ° in less than 2.5 seconds and the weapon system swiveled 90 ° up or down in just 1.5 seconds. Since the commander and gunner sit practically directly on the turret's axis of rotation, they hardly feel the rapid turning movement inside and are therefore not influenced in the precise and fast operation of the systems. A door inside the armored hull, secured by a safety switch, leads through the tower to the driver of the cheetah (only possible in the 12 o'clock position of the tower) and to the emergency exit hatch in the tub floor, which is located behind the driver's seat. The safety switch blocks the rotating movement of the tower and protects the tank crew from being crushed when crossing the door.

Most of the controls for the tower crew are located on five control panels, of which the middle panel (panel 3) is mainly occupied by the screen of the search radar and panel 4 for the directional cannoner is occupied by the displays of the following radar.

Electronics and fire control system

Radar systems

For target reconnaissance, the cheetah has a foldable circular search radar with six selectable frequencies and a high data rate (60 revolutions per minute) at the rear of the tower. In the Bundeswehr, the type MPDR 12 manufactured by Siemens in S-band and with horizontal polarization , sidelobe suppression and integrated secondary radar (type: MSR 400 Mk XII ) is used for friend-foe identification (Friend Foe / IFF) ; the range is 15 kilometers. The search radar can also be operated while the tank is in motion in order to ensure that the airspace is monitored during relocation.

Erected search radar in the version of the German and Belgian cheetah
Follow-up radar of the cheetah with attached laser rangefinder

In the middle of the tower front is the follow-up radar (in the Bundeswehr in the Ku band ) with a range of 15 kilometers, two frequencies and a phase detector. It is designed as a monopulse antenna, which means that there are four horn antennas under the radome that emit the signal. The follow-up radar automatically swivels out for target acquisition and in again after the attack in order to protect the bullet-sensitive radar antenna and the laser rangefinder, which is mounted on the top of the follow-up radar. As with the tower or other rotating components, the transmission of energy, signals and other media (e.g. compressed air) takes place via slip rings, in the case of the follower radar a 225-way slip ring. Both radars operate completely independently, possess due to the design as a pulse Doppler radar is a very good suppression against echoes (Engl. Clutter ) and electronic countermeasures (Engl. Electronic Counter Measures / ECM) and are equipped with self-diagnosis systems ( BITE = built in test equipment) for the electronics and the radar. The search radar is displayed on desk part 3 on a 15 cm radar screen and is designed as a PPI scope .

Search radar DE / BE NL
Frequency band S-band X-band
Range 15 km 15 km
Number of revolutions 60 / min 60 / min
damping 60 dB 43 dB
Antenna gain approx. 23 dB approx. 23 dB
polarization horizontal circular
selectable frequencies 6th 6th
Secondary radar 1 1
Follow-up radar DE / BE NL
Frequency band Ku band X / Ka band
Range 15 km 13 km
selectable frequencies 2 6th
Clutter suppression approx. 23 dB approx. 30 dB
Pulse frequencies 3 3
Antenna shape parabolic parabolic

Optical reconnaissance

Alternatively, flight targets can be sighted using two optical panorama periscopes, for example if the follower radar fails or to lock onto a target without revealing one's own location through the emission of radar radiation. Thanks to the two independent periscopes , it is also possible to combat a target and at the same time visually pursue another target or to monitor the airspace and the ground during the pursuit and combat. The periscopes can be switched from 1.5 to 6 times magnification ( field of view 50 ° and 12.5 °) and have window heating, crosshair lighting and windscreen wipers with cleaning system.

The follow-up radar is also coupled with the periscopes of the commander and the gunner; In this way, when targeting via the radar, the gunner's periscope is initially automatically aligned with the target in order to additionally monitor target tracking or to identify the target in the event of a malfunction in the IFF system.

Muzzle of the left cannon with v 0 measuring system

Fire control system and computer

Due to the ballistic trajectory of the ammunition and the possible long distance to fast moving air targets, a precise calculation of the weapon system is necessary for effective fire fighting.

Based on the spatial position (inclination, angle and direction) of the tank determined by gyroscopes and the distance to the target, the fire control computer calculates the rotation angle of the turret and the elevation angle of the weapons. The required attachment and lead are determined depending on the determined speed, flight route, flight altitude and the distance to the flight destination . To further increase the accuracy, meteorological parameters such as air temperature and pressure, wind speed and direction can be entered in each case.

By measuring the muzzle velocity (v 0 ), a current average velocity of the projectiles is determined, included in the fire control calculation and the weapon alignment is corrected accordingly. This adjustment is necessary because the cannon barrels heat up with each shot and there are small deviations in the ammunition, which leads to different speeds. In order to keep this calculation stable, the weapon computer then assumes that the next projectile will behave very similarly to the last projectile fired.

The fire control computer distinguishes between up to six main operating modes with up to three sub-operating modes, which can be selected depending on the threat situation, such as a helicopter, and the technical status, such as in the event of a malfunction in one of the weapon computers or the radar . For example, in the helicopter operating mode, the laser range measurement is activated, the fire control calculation is simplified and thus accelerated, and more ammunition is fired in order to combat the immediate threat of a combat helicopter rising above the treetops.

The target data can also be received from an external fire control center and fed into the fire control computer. A distance determination of up to 5500 meters by means of the laser (laser type Nd: YAG laser ) has been possible since version B2L and increases the accuracy of the fire control calculation, since the distance determination is more precise than with the radar systems.

As part of the NDV for version 1 A2 of the cheetah, a new digital weapon computer developed by EADS was installed. The computer uses 32-bit 68020 processors from Motorola with a coprocessor and has an interface for command, control and communications (C3), i.e. a connection to military command systems. In addition, a GPS system (type: PLGR 95) was installed, which supports the vehicle navigation system and whose antenna was placed on the tower.


Right weapon with open weapon blanket and two rounds of belted drill ammunition


The 35 mm twin guns KDA L / 90 from Oerlikon represent the only offensive armament of the tank. The type used is a gas pressure loader with a bolt that is rigidly locked when firing and a caliber length of 90, i.e. the barrel is 3150 mm long (3710 mm with the v 0 measuring system).

The cartridge is fired mechanically via a firing pin . The entire weapon system is mounted on the sides of the turret and is not stabilized, which means that firing while moving leads to greater dispersion in the target, but is in principle possible. The elevation range of the weapons is −10 ° to + 85 °. Each cannon can be activated, cocked and relaxed individually in order to be able to continue firing with the other if one weapon malfunctions, such as ignition or feeding errors. Faults in the weapon system occur most frequently with practice ammunition, while the weapon system works very reliably with combat ammunition.

Left weapon housing with ejection for the belt links (top center) and the magazine cover for the ground target ammunition (directly in front of it)

In the normal course of operation, both weapons are fired alternately in bursts (right-left-right-left, etc.) in order to achieve a higher projectile concentration in the target and thus increase the probability of being hit. This leads to easily perceptible lateral vibrations of the tower, which however have no effect on the hit position. The rate of fire is 550 rounds per minute per weapon, which leads to a total rate of 1100 rounds per minute. The cheetah would then be able to fire the entire supply of ammunition in less than forty seconds . The belt links are ejected laterally upwards via two ejectors, while the cartridge cases in the weapon are ejected downwards. To prevent these cartridge cases from jamming between the turret and the hull and thus hindering the turret rotation, the Gepard is equipped with case deflector plates around the turret to reduce the gap.


The combat ammunition used has a caliber of 35 × 228 mm and is strapped in an endless decay belt (type: DM 70 ). The ammunition against airborne and light ground targets is stored in two ammunition containers separated according to weapons in the tower area, which is located inside the tub and is therefore well protected. The two ammunition bunkers are separated from the fighting area with seals and removable covers and hold the ammunition in S-shaped loops. They each hold 320 rounds of flight target ammunition, which is normally sufficient to combat more than 25 flight targets. The HVAPDS-T ammunition (High-Velocity Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot-Tracer) against armored ground targets, on the other hand, is located in an unarmored magazine on the outside of each weapon and takes 20 rounds each. It is rolled up in a spiral when ammunitioning. Since ammunition requires opening the ammunition strings with eight cartridges each and reconnecting the belt links to form an endless belt, a well-rehearsed team needs around 15 minutes. An inexperienced crew, on the other hand, needs about an hour to fully ammunition.

The gunner is responsible for switching the ammunition between flight target and ground target ammunition. The ammunition feed in the weapon is switched electromechanically using a simple toggle switch. This takes less than a second. As Gefechtsmix against aircraft targets a mix of was in the army, including the version B2L explosive incendiary ammunition ( High Explosive Incendiary, HEI ) and anti-tank explosive incendiary ammunition ( Semi-Armor Piercing High Explosive Incendiary, SAPHEI ) Taped 3: 1. These types of ammunition had a muzzle velocity of 1175 meters per second (m / s) and a combined impact delay detonator with self-destruction to avoid collateral damage , i.e. the ammunition automatically exploded after a preset time if the detonator was not triggered otherwise. The combat range was 3500 meters. At the time of decommissioning, the German Gepard 1A2 used the new FAPDS (Frangible Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot) ammunition, which achieves a v 0 of at least 1400 m / s. The effective range against flight targets was increased considerably and was up to 5000 meters away and 3500 meters high. The types of ammunition used in the Bundeswehr can be found in the list of Bundeswehr ammunition .

Smoke thrower on the right side of the tower

Self protection

For self-protection, the German cheetah has an impulse-controlled 76 mm smoke device from Wegmann with eight tubes. Four pipes are attached to both sides of the tower. In addition to the personal equipment of the crew (two P8 pistols and one MP2 submachine gun ), the Bundeswehr also carried hand grenades and two thermite charges in order to render the tank and the weaponry unusable if necessary.


The cheetah is able to cross bodies of water without any additional equipment. The crew needs around 10 minutes to achieve deep wading ability. After switching on the diving hydraulics, changing the air supply for the drive and pumping up the seals of the tower, he can dive into water up to the lower edge of the weapon and cross it. During this phase he is no longer able to fight the fire fight. In contrast to the Leopard 1 or Leopard 2 , the flak tank can not completely submerge, even with additional equipment.

Further developments

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann , now the merged company of the two original main producers, is developing a missile system as additional armament for the cheetah. The system is based on the US FIM 92 Stinger missile, which is already used today in combined operations by the Army Air Defense Force. A twin stinger system is to be mounted on the side of the right 35 mm cannon.

Flakpz Gepard with stinger, prototype

In addition, the cheetah can now be remotely controlled via an external control center for property security. The system called Smart Fort offers full system access to the cheetah and enables the fire fight to be carried out remotely from cover (for example from a bunker ).

Operation sequence and fire fight

Practice ammunition 35 mm in the belt

The effectiveness of the use of the cheetah is based on the reconnaissance by the radar systems and the good fire control system on the trained interaction between the commander and the gunner. There is a clear division of tasks and work between the two, which is already given by the spatial arrangement of the desk parts and operating elements. The commander leads the tank and the fire fight, monitors the disruption displays and the surroundings and the search radar while tracking the target. He is also responsible for the operation and monitoring of consoles 1 and 2, which take up the main system switches, the motor control of the ZM, all malfunction indicators and the radar selector switches. The directional gunner takes over the detection of the target and additionally identifies the target via the optics, as far as visibility permits; He also monitors the follow-up radar and target tracking, operates the weapon system's console (console 5) and unlocks the guns. At the command of the commander, he fires the weapons, which is done using a floor pedal with a safety lever.

Target reconnaissance, acquisition and tracking

Cheetah shooting target at the shooting range near Todendorf

The cheetah uses its search radar or the two periscopes to enlighten its surroundings. Alternatively, it can receive target data from an external radar device via radio data transmission. The directional gunner then marks the target with a kind of control stick at the command of the commander. Marking the target triggers the swiveling out of the follower radar, which automatically begins to scan the elevation range, since the search radar initially only takes over the information about the lateral angle. Normally the tower is already being adjusted. When a target is detected, the follow-up radar is activated, as well as the IFF, which is displayed on section 4 of the console. The fire control computer starts the calculation and aligns the weapons. At this point at the latest, the radar warning devices in modern aircraft will respond and signal to the cockpit crew that they are in the beacon of a follower radar. From this point on, the cheetah is at great risk, as its location can be clarified well and the locked aircraft could fight the tank with an anti-radar missile such as an AGM-88 HARM or AS-17 Krypton . The initiation of other countermeasures, such as the dropping of chaff or evasive maneuvers, then makes tracking and fighting more difficult.


There are different rates of fire for fighting all targets . Aircraft are usually fought with NORMAL fire selection . The fire control computer determines which number of cartridges is optimally fired, but a maximum of twelve rounds per weapon. If the ammunition supply is limited, the fire selection is LIMITED (ten rounds per weapon). Drones (UAV) are fought with KURZ fire selection . In addition, the types of fire DURATION, which is only used in exceptional cases, and SINGLE are available for combating ground targets.

Use against ground targets

The fight against ground targets, such as tanks or wheeled vehicles, is kept much simpler in the operational sequence of the fire control calculation, since target activation cannot take place via search and follow-up radar. The detection and tracking is done purely optically via one of the commander's or gunner's periscopes . The range setting for the weapons is done manually, as neither the search nor the follow-up radar can resolve ground targets and the laser range measurement is not provided for in the operational sequence of ground targets .

Ground targets are fought either in rapid single fire or in short bursts of fire . Depending on the target type, either flight target or hard core ammunition is used. In this case, since the distance to a ground target is estimated, it makes sense to use tracer ammunition to correct the range setting after the first shot. A disadvantage of this method is that it makes it much easier for the enemy to detect the tank.

The cheetah is normally unable to destroy a modern main battle tank, but it can damage it (for example the sensors and the drive) so much that it can evade the direct threat itself. Due to the relatively large caliber of the cannons, which is higher than that of most armored personnel carriers , it can, on the other hand, destroy lightly armored vehicles such as armored personnel carriers , armored personnel carriers or other anti-aircraft vehicles .

Cheetah 1 A2

(Information on the last version of the Bundeswehr)

  • Crew: 1 driver, 2 gun operators (commander and gunner)

measures and weight

  • Length: 7.76 m
  • Width: 3.28 m
  • Height: 4.22 m (with extended search radar)
  • Weight: approx. 47.5 t; of which 32 tons for the chassis and 15.5 tons for the tower; Military Load Class (MLC): 52
Cheetah 1A2

Drive and performance

  • Drive motor: 10-cylinder multi-fuel engine with 610 kW (830 PS) / displacement: 37.4 l,
    manufacturer: MTU , type: MB 838 CaM 500, consumption around 150 l / 100 km
  • Additional engine (ZM) for the energy supply system (EVA): 4-cylinder diesel engine with 66 kW (90 PS) / displacement: 3.8 l,
    manufacturer: Daimler-Benz , type: OM 314, consumption: around 10–20 l / H
  • Tank volume: 985 l
  • Chassis: torsion bar sprung support roller drive with live end connector caterpillar
  • Top speed: approx. 65 km / h
  • Driving range (road): around 550 km
Gepard 1A2 with special paint

Primary armament

  • 2 × 35 mm twin cannon KDA L / 90 from Oerlikon Contraves GmbH
    • Rate of fire: 550 rounds per minute per weapon
    • Length of the tube: 3150 mm (90 caliber lengths); Length of the pipe with v 0 measuring system: 3710 mm
    • Twist type: Progressive twist right (0 ° –6 ° 30 ″); Twist length: 2853 mm; Number of trains: 24
    • Ammunition (Bundeswehr): FAPDS (Frangible Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot) against airborne and ground targets (v 0 > 1400 m / s),
      HVAPDS-T (High-Velocity Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot-Tracer) against more heavily armored ground targets (v 0 = 1385 m / s)
    • Ammunition (other users and earlier types): different sub and full caliber types (HEI, SAPHEI, APDS), air burst ammunition types (such as AHEAD ammunition)

Self protection

  • Pulse-controlled 76 mm smoke thrower from Wegmann with 2 × 4 tubes (attached to the tower)


  • 2 × SEM-93 data radios

Education and training in the Bundeswehr

Cheetah in practice shooting at aerial targets

The operation and use of the FlakPz place great demands on the crew. The qualification to become a top gunner was one of the most demanding uses, which was intended for soldiers doing basic military service in the Bundeswehr, as it was associated with the longest training period.

Various training systems and simulators were available for training on the cheetah up to version B2L : The basic training took place at the Flakpanzer training facility (AAF) . The basics of the system were taught on it, such as starting up the cheetah's systems and the basics of combating flight targets. The practice combat room (ÜKR) represented the next level of training. It enabled more realistic training through a spatial approach to the real tower and was mainly used to practice the procedure in the event of system failures during combat (such as failure of the follower radar when tracking targets) and to get to know the individual operational processes of the fire control computer. The flight target simulator (FZS) represented the highest level of training , in which a real tank was networked with a simulation system, thus enabling the most realistic training. In the course of their military training, the gunner spent several hundred hours in one of the training systems, and the commanders spent more in accordance with their training.

Training facility simulator anti-aircraft battery (ASF)

For the Gepard 1A2, the simulator anti-aircraft battery (ASF) training system was introduced and the above-mentioned ones abolished.

For shooting with combat ammunition with the cheetah, the army anti-aircraft troops used two shooting ranges on the Baltic Sea in the vicinity of the Hohwacht Bay. Combating air targets was practiced at the Todendorf anti-aircraft firing range . The neighboring Putlos military training area was available for shooting at ground targets and for combined aerial and ground target shooting . The flight targets, mainly in the form of tow bags of the types TGL-3C and TGL-3D and towed bodies of the type DO-SK6 , were primarily towed for the Bundeswehr by the Gesellschaft für Flugzieldarstellung (GFD), a subsidiary of the then EADS (now Airbus Defense and Space ).

Use in foreign armed forces


The 55 cheetahs used in the Belgian army had to be separated from 1994, because Belgium was no longer able to take part in the necessary extension of the useful life due to the tight budget situation.


Dutch version of the Cheetah anti-aircraft tank

The cheetah was also introduced in the Dutch army (95 of the CA1-3 versions) under the official name PRTL (Pantser Rups Tegen Luchtdoelen, tanks with chains against air targets), which the soldiers called "Pruttle". Traditionally, every single vehicle of the Dutch army is given a name beginning with the company designation, which in this case was a name with a C at the beginning due to the delivery of the first Gepard to the C company . They chose Cheetah , the English term for the big cat, cheetah. Cheetah as the name for the Dutch cheetah comes from a published photo of this tank, which had the name written on its turret. The international press picked up this name and the mistake found its way into the specialist literature. In 2000, as part of the service life extension measures, the Dutch army made Cheetah PRTL the official name of the tank, after the army got tired of explaining the whole story over and over and "Pruttle" appeared as a less martial name for a tank. From 2005, the Netherlands also began decommissioning as part of the structural reform of the army, but wanted to keep some units in service until 2015. In the meantime (as of January 2011) the cheetah is no longer in the equipment lists of the "Koninklijke Landmacht". The Cheetah PRTL differed from the German cheetah by the bar-shaped search radar, the modified smoke-throwing system with 2 × 6 tubes and the chain aprons. In contrast to those of the Bundeswehr, the Dutch cheetahs did not have a laser rangefinder until they were decommissioned.


As the Dutch Ministry of Defense announced on February 11, 2013, 60 cheetahs from their own stocks were sold to Jordan . The deal had a total volume of 21 million euros and, in addition to 350,000 rounds of ammunition, also included 22 Bofors anti-aircraft guns, 5 Thales radar systems as well as 5 Leopard 1 armored recovery vehicles and 12 chassis for the production of spare parts. The last vehicles reached Jordan in mid-July 2016.


Romanian cheetah on a military parade

As part of the support for NATO accession candidates, the German Armed Forces handed over 43 cheetahs of the old type B2 to Romania from November 2004 . However, the delivery of the first two tanks from the Bundeswehr already took place in 2000. With the decommissioning of the cheetahs by the Bundeswehr, the Romanian army is the last user of the tank within NATO.


The Gepard 1A2 purchased by KMW during the anti-aircraft comparison shooting in Brazil in 2011

In October 2011, the Brazilian armed forces held an air defense comparative shooting at the Formosa military training area in Brazil in order to identify a mobile air defense system for their units. The state equipped with the Leopard 1A5 also showed interest in the Gepard, which belongs to the vehicle family. For this purpose, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann bought a Gepard 1A2 (formerly Y-259 820) from the Bundeswehr. Soldiers from the Army Air Defense Force Training Center supported the manufacturer in presenting the weapon system in Brazil. A model of a delta wing with a wingspan of around one meter served as the target representation; the radar reflective surface was described as sufficient by those involved. The 40 mm Bofors gun and anti-aircraft missiles of the Igla type , which are already in use in the armed forces , were also involved in the comparison shooting . Since on the day of the shooting 11 knots of wind speed was measured on the ground, the 40 mm Bofors gun and the anti-aircraft missiles missed the model airplane. The cheetah's shooting result was a total of three drones shot down. Hard targets at a distance of 3000 m were also fought . In April 2013 it was announced that Brazil would purchase 34 used FlakPz 1A2 from the Bundeswehr for a total price of around 30 million euros. In 2014 Germany delivered 13 cheetahs to Brazil.

Political controversy and future

In November 2001 there was a controversy between the then Federal Minister of Defense Rudolf Scharping and the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs (Foreign Minister) Joschka Fischer over exports of heavy equipment from the Bundeswehr depots . The defense minister had to the defense - attache in the German embassies sent from 53 states a 46-page catalog with certain vehicles for sale. In addition to the Leopard 1 battle tank , the M109 self-propelled howitzer , the Marder armored personnel carrier and others, there were also 269 Gepard. The Foreign Minister then forbade the catalog to be passed on to these states, among other things because they were states outside NATO and the European Union (e.g. Nigeria and Egypt ) and these states are subject to special authorization requirements.

In the previous year, the independent Weizsäcker Commission had recommended, in addition to reducing other heavy equipment, halving the cheetah population to reduce overcapacity in the Bundeswehr. In March 2010, the then inspector of the army , General Hans-Otto Budde , announced that all 90 remaining systems would be decommissioned for cost reasons, so that the last tank of the 2012 type was taken out of use.

Mobile units of the MANTIS short-range protection system are to serve as the successor system for the anti-aircraft guns and offer an expanded range of applications. However, the system is currently still under development and it is not known when it will actually be introduced into the Bundeswehr.

Similar systems


  • Jürgen Plate, Lutz-Reiner Gau, Jörg Siegert : German military vehicles. Motorbuch Verlag Stuttgart, ISBN 3-613-02152-8 .
  • Walter J. Spielberger: The way to the Flakpanzer Gepard. The historical development of the German anti-aircraft tank. Bernard U. Graefe Verlag, ISBN 3-7637-5197-1 .

Web links

Commons : Gepard anti-aircraft gunner  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i Technical Data GEPARD 1A2 / PRTL - 35mm GWI CHEETAH SPAAG. (PDF) Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, archived from the original on December 9, 2008 ; accessed on December 1, 2015 .
  2. Christopher F. Foss, David Miller: Modern combat weapons: technology, tactics and use. Motorbuchverlag, ISBN 3-7276-7092-4 , p. 150.
  3. a b c d Soldat und Technik: Edition 03/2007 (PDF)  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  4. Jane's Defense: Excerpt from the article on the cheetah
  5. a b Swedish website with a detailed history of the cheetah
  6. Bundeswehrplan 2009 on the Geopowers website
  7. Christoph Hickmann, Joachim Käppner: Operation plugging the gap . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . January 28, 2017, ISSN  0174-4917 , p. 6 .
  8. a b Information on the Army Guide website about the engine
  9. Datasheet of the slip ring of the Gepard tower , was available atösungen/Defense/Turm_Gepard.pdf Genealogie, Dead Link | date = 2018-03 | archivebot = 2018-03- 25 12:26:36 InternetArchiveBot | url = http: //ösungen/Defense/Turm_Gepard.pdf}}
  10. Information on 'Radar Tutorial' on the antenna structure of the cheetah ( memento of the original from October 5, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  11. Data sheet of the slip ring of the follow-up radar on '' (PDF, 65 kB)  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  12. Cheetah. Defense Journal, archived from the original on September 5, 2012 ; accessed on December 1, 2015 .
  13. ^ Information from the German Army on the Munster training center
  14. Information from the armed forces support command about the two shooting ranges
  15. DO-SK6 on Bredow-Web (accessed on February 16, 2009)
  16. ^ GFD - Society for Flight Target Representation GmbH. Check Six, archived from the original on August 11, 2014 ; accessed on December 1, 2015 .
  17. GFD company website (accessed on February 16, 2009)
  18. Netherlands selling ex-service Gepard SPAAGs to Jordan. IHS Janes 360, February 12, 2013, archived from the original on February 8, 2014 ; accessed on December 1, 2015 .
  19. Jordan receives final Cheetah SPAAGs ( Memento of the original from July 28, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  20. Army Technology with information on the delivery of cheetahs (February 22, 2009)
  21. ^ Report of the Federal Government on its export policy for conventional armaments in 2000 (Armaments Export Report 2000). (PDF) Archived from the original on January 14, 2006 ; accessed on December 1, 2015 .
  22. With the GEPARD in Brazil - A travel report ( Memento of the original from July 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , PDF, accessed January 15, 2011. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  23. Brazil buys German tanks for World Cup , accessed on April 12, 2013.
  24. Report of the Federal Government on its export policy for conventional armaments in 2014 (Armaments Export Report 2014). (PDF) German Bundestag, June 25, 2015, accessed on December 1, 2015 .
  25. Fischer stops Scharping plans for arms sales. WDR, archived from the original on November 30, 2005 ; accessed on December 1, 2015 .
  26. ^ Extract from the report of the Weizsäcker Commission
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on March 9, 2008 in this version .