BERLIN — The Austrian military will receive 36 air defense systems for its Pandur EVO wheeled armored vehicles. The country’s minister of defense, Klaudia Tanner, announced the deal worth about half a billion Euros last week.

It will make Austria the first country to use a modified version of Rheinmetall’s Skyranger 30 system. The weapons station in its Austrian configuration now weighs three tons – a quarter less than in its original design – making it suitable for mounting on the Austrian military’s six-axle Pandur EVO vehicles, the daily paper “Der Standard” reported. A reduction in armor and streamlining of the design were reported to have allowed for this significant reduction.

Just a week earlier, the Ministry of Defense had announced that Austria would purchase an additional 225 six-axle Pandurs for a total of €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion). Austrian media reported that the cost of the Rheinmetall air defense systems had already been included in this total.

Austria had previously ordered 100 Pandur Evos, the majority of which have already been delivered.

General Dynamics European Land Systems assembles the vehicles in Simmering, Vienna, where the Rheinmetall weapons station will be integrated,

The Austrian Skyranger 30 systems will combine a sensor suite with a 30-millimeter cannon and guided Mistral missiles, Rheinmetall said in a press release.

In addition to the 36 units of the mobile air defense system, the contract includes the option for nine further systems, Austrian media reported.

The first deliveries are set to take place in 2026, Rheinmetall said in a statement. The company touted the deal as a “market breakthrough,” noting that they expected orders for the new system to follow from Germany, Denmark and Hungary. Germany approved the acquisition of the original Skyranger 30 system just a few days before the Austrian deal was announced.

The acquisition of the mobile air defense system and the armored vehicles is part of the Austrian military’s push to increase its combat readiness in light of the worsening security situation in Europe following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Austria joined the German-led European Sky Shield air defense initiative, ESSI, in 2023 and has since announced a series of procurements to that end. These included the IRIS-T system and long-range missiles. The Skyranger 30 system, in turn, promises to offer short-range, immediate protection for ground forces in the field.

“With … a rapidly deployable 35mm solution, the Austrian military is now pointing the way in contemporary air defense. Progressive networking and integration of existing and higher-echelon systems will result in decisive strategic advantages,” the Rheinmetall statement reads.

Linus Höller is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He covers international security and military developments across the continent. Linus holds a degree in journalism, political science and international studies, and is currently pursuing a master’s in nonproliferation and terrorism studies.

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