SkyKnight is the UAE’s first indigenously designed and built counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar missile system. Image courtesy of AETOSWire.
The SkyKnight missile system can detect and destroy rockets and incoming mortar and artillery shells. Image courtesy of aapsky/Shutterstock.
Rheinmetall Air Defence collaborated with Halcon to integrate the SkyKnight C-RAM into the Skynex air defence system. Image courtesy of Alexyz3d/Shutterstock.

SkyKnight is a new air defence missile system manufactured by Halcon, a precision-guided weapons supplier based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the first counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) missile system designed and built locally in the UAE.

The missile defence system can be deployed to counter a range of modern threats such as fixed-wing aircraft, rotorcraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), rockets, and incoming mortar and artillery shells.

SkyKnight air defence missile system development

The SkyKnight missile system is a key component of Rheinmetall’s Skynex air defence system. Halcon’s parent company EDGE Group, a manufacturer of defence and military equipment has been engaged in the development of a short-range air defence system. It collaborated with Rheinmetall which has a requirement for a missile system for integration into its Skynex air defence system.

EDGE and Rheinmetall are jointly offering the Skynex air defence solution equipped with the newly developed missile system.

In February 2021, Halcon unveiled the SkyKnight C-RAM missile system at the International Defence and Exhibition Conference (IDEX) 2021 organised in Abu Dhabi.

Skynex is expected to replace Rheinmetall’s Skyguard air defence systems that are currently operational with multiple countries.

SkyKnight C-RAM system design and features

SkyKnight features a 2.2m-long, 115mm-diameter missile with a wingspan of 300mm and a weight of 35kg. The system provides early warning signals for precise ground-to-air interception of rotary-wing aircraft, UAVs, fixed-wing aircraft, missiles, artillery, and mortars at a target range of up to 10km.

The intercept ranges of the missile for RAM threats, precision-guided munitions (PGM) are 4km and 6km, respectively. The munition can engage helicopters, aircraft, and UAV targets at a maximum range of 10km.

The C-RAM missile is designed to track and neutralise several multi-directional incoming targets simultaneously. It is capable of protecting static assets, as well as mobile and mechanised forces, from a multitude of threats.

The transportable and mobile system can be deployed from fixed installations on land, sea, and land-based mobile platforms. It can be integrated into different air defence systems.

Skynex air defence system features

Oerlikon Skynex is a ground-based, fully-networked air defence system that combines a diverse set of sensors and effectors to provide an advanced and mostly automated solution.

It features unique and open architecture and is equipped with a mix of weapon systems that can provide a layered protection shield against a range of aerial threats.

Major components of the system include Oerlikon Skynex control node and up to four multi-sensor units (MSU) with active electronically scanned array (AESA) multi-mode radars (AMMR) for surveillance and tracking. The Skynex control node houses the interface to the  Skymaster® Command & Control System, which is the centrepiece of the air defence system.

The radars provide the tactical air picture to the operator and the aerial targets are then assigned to autonomous effectors using the Skymaster network.

Skynex can be deployed to protect stationary assets such as urban areas, airports, ports, buildings, critical military infrastructure and forward operating bases, and mobile assets such as ground forces and convoy. It offers protection against ballistic threats, rockets, artillery, UAVs, PGMs, glide bombs, cruise missiles, and traditional threats such as fighter ground-attack (FGA) aircraft and helicopters.

The air defence protection system can be transported in 20ft cargo containers and deployed statically for a very long time before being moved, or permanently fixed at a single location.

Anti-aircraft guns of Skynex

The Skynex system also includes up to four 35mm Oerlikon RG Mk3 revolving machine guns, and four SkyKnight missile launcher units (MLU), with 60 missile rounds per launcher unit. It can fire up to 80 missiles at a time to neutralise incoming targets, with the capacity to simultaneously launch 20 missiles per MLU.

The firing rate of each revolving gun is 1,000 rounds per minute. The projectiles from the guns can hit fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft at a range of 4km as well as mortars and UAVs at up to 1.5km.

The Oerlikon RG Mk3 gun enables flexible target designation by receiving and processing data from 3D and 2D search radars. An integrated fire control processor allows automatic tracking and engagement.