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Ukraine to receive more air defense systems by end of 2023

The US Navy delivers Ukraine with a new truck-mounted weapon system specifically designed to shoot down drones before year’s end.
VAMPIRE. Credit: L3HARRIS

The US Navy is set to complete delivery of a new Counter-Unmanned Air System (UAS) weapon system to Ukraine before the end of December, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) reported.

According to Captain Alex Dutko, program manager at PMA-242, the Navy office overseeing the system, “Early reports indicate the weapon system is having an immediate impact in the ongoing Ukrainian wartime effort.”

The system, known as Vehicle Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment (VAMPIRE), consists of a sensor ball and four-shot Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) launchers designed to mount to trucks.

The contingency operations team for the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office began working last year on an “urgent requirement” to provide Ukraine forces with rocket-launching platforms to defend against unmanned aerial threats.

The US Navy and Army have used the APKWS laser-guided rockets against air-to-ground targets. The VAMPIRE system allows the same rockets to be used against drones.

In total, the Navy will deliver 14 VAMPIRE systems to Ukraine before 2023 ends. In the coming weeks, PMA-242 also plans the first-ever delivery of APKWS rockets with proximity fuzes, an enabling technology for the counter-UAS mission. According to Galan, the proximity fuze incorporates a sensor allowing APKWS to target a broader range of UAVs.

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