Rheinmetall Air Defence

Rheinmetall Air Defence AG is a division of German armament manufacturer Rheinmetall, created when the company's Oerlikon Contraves unit was renamed on 1 January 2009 and integrated with Rheinmetall's other air-defence products.[1] Oerlikon Contraves was a Swiss anti-aircraft artillery manufacturer famous for its adaptation of the 1916 20 mm Becker as the Oerlikon 20 mm autocannon design, which was used in the and Second World Wars and still in use today. Copies and derivatives of these designs were made by German, French, British, and Japanese weapon manufacturers. Oerlikon Contraves was purchased by Rheinmetall, a German armament manufacturer, in 1999.[2]

As of January 2009, Rheinmetall Air Defence claimed about 1,050 employees at locations in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Canada. The group's sales in 2008 were about 380 million Euros.[1]



Oerlikon's earliest predecessor was Schweizerische Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon, founded in Switzerland in 1906.[3]

In 1923 it acquired a factory in Germany. It entered the anti-aircraft defence field in 1924. In 1936, it founded a purely anti-aircraft development company called Contraves (contra aves is Latin for "against birds").[improper synthesis?] In 1989, the Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon-Bührle and Contraves merged to form the Oerlikon-Contraves Group, later renamed Oerlikon Contraves Defence.[4] Oerlikon Contraves was purchased by Rheinmetall, a German armament manufacturer, in 1999, and renamed Rheinmetall Air Defence AG on 1 January 2009.


Rheinmetall Air Defence specializes in ground-based and naval air defence. Their products include search-and-tracking sensors, 35 mm air-defence guns, command-and-control posts, battle management, and ship-based combat systems.

Naval systems

  • Search and Acquisition Radar: Oerlikon X-TAR3D/M
  • Radar and Electro Optical Tracking Modules: Oerlikon TMX/EO NT and Oerlikon TMX/EO Mk2
  • Naval Gun Systems: Oerlikon Millennium 35 mm Naval Revolver Gun System
  • Command and Control: Oerlikon Seaguard Command and Control Console and Oerlikon Weapon Control Module

Ground-based air defence

Civilian products

Oerlikon Contraves subsidiary Oerlikon Transtec manufactured railcar and locomotive systems, including locomotive brakes, subway and electric train power conversion systems, and other subsidiary systems for mass-transit vehicles.[5]

As of October 2010, Rheinmetall's website no longer lists these products as part of the Air Defence group.[6]

Historic products

A ship-mounted Oerlikon 20 mm cannon.

American versions of the Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, such as the Mk 4, Mk 10, and Mk 24, were used extensively from World War II to the Vietnam War. Originally used as anti-aircraft weapons by the US Navy, they were frequently the last line of defense against kamikaze attacks. Most combat ships from aircraft carriers to PT boats were equipped with Oerlikon guns. In Vietnam they were widely employed by riverine forces as anti-personnel weapons. They remained in service until the 1970s, when they were replaced by the Mk 16 20 mm cannon.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Rheinmetall Air Defence: the new name of air defence specialist Oerlikon Contraves" (Press release). Rheinmetall. 2009-01-27. http://www.rheinmetall-defence.com/index.php?lang=3&fid=5014. 
  2. ^ "Rheinmetall unit Oerlikon Contraves to appeal Unaxis' name change". Forbes. AFX News Limited (New York: Forbes). 2006-09-18. http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2006/09/18/afx3023795.html. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  3. ^ "Historical Milestones". Oerlikon Corporate Website. Pfäffikon, Switzerland: OC Oerlikon Management. http://www.oerlikon.com/ecomaXL/index.php?site=OERLIKON_EN_historical_milestones. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  4. ^ Bryks, Jacqueline E.; Hausfeld, Michael D.; Abrahams, Charles Peter; Kerrigan, Robert G.; Fisher, Barry A. (2002-11-11). "Complaint: Khulumani et al. v. Barclays National Bank Ltd et al." (PDF). DomCLIC Project: South African Apartheid Litigation. The Hague Justice Portal. http://www.haguejusticeportal.net/Docs/NLP/US/Khulumani_Complaint_11-11-2002.pdf. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  5. ^ "Oerlikon Transtec Inc.". Directory51.com. http://www.directory51.com/profile/Oerlikon-Transtec-Inc-c26684.html. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  6. ^ "Rheinmetall Air Defence AG". Rheinmetall Defence. 2010. http://www.rheinmetall-defence.com/index.php?fid=619&lang=3. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
  7. ^ [http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_2cm-70_mk234.htm "Switzerland Oerlikon 20 mm/70 (0.79") Mark 1 / United States of America 20 mm/70 (0.79") Marks 2, 3 & 4 / Britain 20 mm/70 (0.79") Mark I and Mark II"]. NavWeaps.Com. 14 January 2011. http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_2cm-70_mk234.htm. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 

External links

Factory 1b.svg Companies portal

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