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Ukraine highlights VAMPIRE new defense weapon against UAVs

The Ukrainian Navy's press service recently broadcast footage demonstrating the air defense forces' effectiveness, featuring the first combat use of a Counter-Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) weapon system developed by L3Harris specifically for Ukraine.
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VAMPIRE Counter-Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) weapon system developed by L3Harris specifically for Ukraine. (Picture source: Army Recognition)

In the shared video, a kamikaze drone, identified as the Shahed-136 from Russia, was intercepted and destroyed by a laser-guided rocket from the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), deployed using the Vampire weapon system.

The VAMPIRE (Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment) system is an innovation by L3Harris, aimed at enhancing defense capabilities against aerial and ground threats through laser-guided weapon systems like the APKWS or other laser-guided munitions. This technology is noted for its portability and modularity, allowing for quick installation on most vehicles with a cargo space.

The modular and palletized design of the VAMPIRE system facilitates easy integration on various vehicle types, whether tactical or non-tactical, offering a rapid, cost-effective, and efficient weapon deployment solution. The system can be tailored to specific customer needs, incorporating different sensors and weapon packages based on mission requirements. Notably, the system is designed to be fully autonomous, incorporating a power system that negates the need for a 24-volt alternator on the carrying vehicle.

The inclusion of APKWS or other laser-guided munitions enhances the capability to precisely strike enemy drones and ground threats, enabling special forces and light units to quickly engage targets beyond the range of conventional weapons. VAMPIRE is also equipped with the WESCAM MX-10 RSTA stabilized independent sighting system, offering reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) capabilities with high-definition (HD), multi-sensor, and multi-spectral support for long-range missions.

L3Harris developed a prototype of the VAMPIRE system in 2021 and began field testing within the same year. Following range and durability tests, an advanced prototype was presented to the US Department of Defense in 2022, successfully demonstrating its capabilities at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida.

In January 2023, L3Harris secured a $40 million contract from the Department of Defense to supply 14 VAMPIRE systems to the Ukrainian security forces as part of a $3 billion security assistance package from the US government. Four VAMPIRE systems were delivered in mid-2023, with the remaining ten scheduled for delivery by the end of the year. These systems, intended to protect Ukraine's civilian infrastructure against drone attacks and ground threats, will be equipped with APKWS.

Compared to other anti-drone solutions like electronic warfare systems or surface-to-air missile systems, Vampire stands out for its affordability and assembly simplicity. By the end of last year, the United States had delivered all 14 units of this system under contract, strengthening Ukraine's defense against aerial attacks.

Ukraine highlights VAMPIRE new defense weapon against UAVs 925 002
Iranian Shahed-136 shot down by the VAMPIRE (Picture source: Ukrainian MoD)

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