Oerlikon GDF

Oerlikon GDF

A modernized Finnish 35 mm Oerlikon twin cannon
Type Autocannon
Place of origin Switzerland
Service history
Used by See operators
Weight 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)

Shell Complete round: 35×228mm, 1.565 kg (3 lb 7 oz)
Caliber 35 mm (1.4 in)
Action Gas-operated[1]
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)

The Oerlikon GDF[2] 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 & 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 T-55 based 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.[2]

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.[2]

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

KD series cannons

An Austrian GDF-005 (FIAK85) gun system. Note the muzzle velocity measuring device on the muzzle of each gun

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.[3]

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.


An Oerlikon Contraves Skyguard Radar of the Austrian Air Force

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 ready very quickly through the hydraulic systems for antenna construction and leveling after installation. A typical fire unit using the Skyguard consists of two twin 35 mm gun platforms with a single Skyguard fire control radar.



Romanian soldiers firing TP rounds.
Projectile weight 535 g (18.9 oz) 550 g (19 oz) 550 g (19 oz) 550 g (19 oz) 375 g (13.2 oz) 550 g (19 oz) 750 g (26 oz)
Explosive 98 g (3.5 oz) 112 g (4.0 oz) 70 g (2.5 oz) 22 g (0.78 oz) n/a n/a n/a
Propellant 330 g (12 oz)
Complete round 1,565 g (55.2 oz) 1,580 g (56 oz) 1,580 g (56 oz) 1,552 g (54.7 oz) 1,440 g (51 oz) 1,580 g (56 oz) 1,780 g (63 oz)
Muzzle velocity 1,175 m/s (3,850 ft/s) 1,175 m/s (3,850 ft/s) 1,175 m/s (3,850 ft/s) 1,175 m/s (3,850 ft/s) 1,440 m/s (4,700 ft/s) 1,175 m/s (3,850 ft/s) 1,050 m/s (3,400 ft/s)
  • HEI: High Explosive Incendiary (-T—Tracer)
  • SAPHEI: Semi-Armour Piercing High Explosive Incendiary
  • FAPDS: Frangible Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot
  • AHEAD: Anti-missile rounds, that fire "152 heavy tungsten metal sub-projectiles".
  • TP: Target Practice (-T—Tracer)


A Japanese built version of the gun in travelling position
Under tow, an Oerlikon 35mm twin cannon of the Republic of Singapore Air Force
Japanese Type 87 SPAAG
Finnish ItPsv 90
The PZA Loara-A anti-aircraft vehicle


A deployed Swiss GDF-005

See also


  1. Friedman, Norman (1997–1998). "Oerlikon 35mm (Type GDM-A and GDM-C)". The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapons Systems, 1997–1998. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press. p. 455. ISBN 978-1-55750-268-1. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 http://weaponsystems.net/weapon.php?weapon=EE02%20-%20GDF
  3. George M. Chinn, The Machine Gun, Volume V
  4. Pook, page 109
  5. "Goose Green: The Argentinian Story" by David Aldea. British Small Wars website
  6. Reynolds, David (2002). Task force: the illustrated history of the Falklands War. Sutton, p. 150. ISBN 0-7509-2845-X
  7. Rodríguez Mottino, p. 170
  8. El derribo del primer avión argentino en Malvinas (Spanish)
  9. Fernández Reguera, José (1987). La Guerra de las Malvinas. Ed. Fernández Reguera, p. 572 (Spanish)
  10. ”During the attack, MacLeod's aircraft was hit by shrapnel which penetrated the rear equipment bay area of the aircraft and fractured the aft reaction control air pipe. On decelerating to the hover during the recovery, this caused a fire to start in the rear equipment bay and smoke was seen coming from the aircraft. Fuel indications suggested a considerable fuel leak at the same time. MacLeod executed a very quick and professional landing in worrying circumstances. Having landed-on, the fire was extinguished by the ground crew.” RAF diaries, 12 June entry
  11. (Spanish) En uno de esos ataques -12 de Junio- el enemigo en vuelo rasante (150 mts. del suelo) descargó todos sus cohetes sobre el cañón: resultaron seis heridos leves y fue “tocado” por la propia artillería antiaérea; uno de los sirvientes descargó sobre la máquina enemiga su fusil FAL; el cañón continuó en servicio. Rodríguez Mottino, page 91
  12. Pook, page 162
  13. Hansard January 1985
  14. Britains Small Wars - Argentine Weapons
  15. Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14 | Danger Room from Wired.com
  16. "Military accident: 'stop speculation'". South Africa Independent online, retrieved on 17 October 2007]
  17. Pretoria News, p.3 on 2008 January 26
  18. "Type 90 Twin-35mm Towed Anti-Aircraft Artillery". sinodefence.com. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
  19. "Wide range of defence solutions available from ChinaPoly Technologies Inc". Jane's Information Group. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  20. "Pakistan Acquires Chinese Made Air Defence Artillery". Kanwa Daily News. 2013-03-28. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
  21. Andrew, Martin. "PLA Mechanised Infantry Division Air Defence Systems / PLA Point Defence Systems". Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  22. de Cherisey, Erwan (13 July 2016). "New Cameroonian air-defence capabilities revealed". IHS Jane's 360. Paris. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  23. Type 90 Twin-35mm Towed Anti-Aircraft Artillery. Retrieved on August 1, 2008.
  24. (Japanese) 35mm2連装高射機関砲 L-90. Retrieved on August 1, 2008.
  25. "SIPRI arms transfer database". Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. 18 June 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  26. (Spanish) Spanish Minister of Defense official website. May 2008.
  27. http://www.mkek.gov.tr/tr/Urunler.aspx?UretimYeriID=0&UrunID=94&AnaKategori=107&AltKategori=123&EnAltKategori=
  28. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/tu-army-equipment.htm
  29. House of Commons Hansard for 11 Feb 2002 (pt 5).

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