In a recent development, the Ukrainian Navy has showcased the effectiveness of its air defense units through the successful deployment of a new Counter-Unmanned Air System (UAS) weapon system known as the Vampire. Developed by L3Harris Technologies, the Vampire system played a crucial role in intercepting Russian kamikaze drones, including the Shahed-136, in the ongoing conflict.
The Vampire system, integrated into the Vehicle Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment (VAMPIRE), is a compact and palletized rocket-launching platform equipped with modern sensors and four-shot Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) launchers. These launchers are capable of launching laser-guided rockets, such as the one used to successfully shoot down the Shahed-136 drone. The VAMPIRE system, initially employed by the U.S. Navy and Army for engaging air-to-ground targets, has proven its adaptability by introducing a laser-guided rocket designed to effectively counter unmanned aerial threats.
The recent footage released by the Ukrainian Navy highlights the moment when a Shahed-136 drone was neutralized by an APKWS laser-guided rocket launched from the Vampire system. This marks a significant achievement in the ongoing conflict, demonstrating the capability of the Vampire system to provide a cost-effective and easy-to-assemble solution for countering drone threats.
One of the key advantages of the Vampire system is its swift deployment. The L3Harris-made weapon can be mounted in just two hours and operated by a single person, offering a rapid response to emerging threats. The system is versatile and can be equipped with missiles to target both ground and air threats, making it a valuable asset in enhancing Ukraine’s defensive capabilities against aerial threats.
Moreover, the Vampire system proves to be a cost-effective alternative compared to other counter-drone measures, such as electronic warfare technologies or surface-to-air missile systems. The ease of assembly and lower cost make it an indispensable tool for countering mass-produced Iranian- and Russian-made loitering munitions, like the Shahed-136/131.
The recent wave of attack drones launched by the Russian invasion on February 12th saw the Ukrainian Navy successfully intercepting 14 out of 17 Shahed-type loitering munitions and one Kh-59 cruise missile using the Vampire system. The footage released by the Ukrainian Navy provides official evidence of the U.S.-made Vampire systems on air defense duty in Ukraine.
The Vampire system, with its WESCAM MX-10 RSTA multispectral sighting system and APKWS laser-guided munitions, has proven its effectiveness in taking down a variety of targets, including drones weighing up to 240 kg. The system’s performance as an air defense weapon has been tested and validated, particularly against Class-2 unmanned aerial systems, emphasizing its capability to deliver low-cost, precision strikes against agile and speedy drone threats.
In conclusion, the successful deployment of the Vampire system by the Ukrainian Navy marks a significant milestone in countering drone threats in the ongoing conflict. The system’s rapid deployment, cost efficiency, and versatility make it a valuable asset in enhancing Ukraine’s air defense capabilities against evolving aerial threats.