The Russian-Ukrainian battlefield is undoubtedly a testing ground for new weapons for the West, especially the United States. Few days ago, the Pentagon announced a large-scale military aid plan worth nearly 3 billion US dollars to Ukraine. Among them, a new weapon called as “Vampire” is also announced. How is this new weapon going to help the Ukrainian Army?
In the latest list of military aid to Ukraine announced by the Pentagon, a weapon called “VAMPIRE Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems” has attracted world’s attention. In a article by “WarZone” which shows that “Vampire” is a anti-drone system developed by Harris, a well-known military enterprise. This weapon is actually a very modular semi-active laser-guided precision rocket system that can be mounted on a variety of vehicles and is used to intercept slow, low-flying enemy drones.
The Vampire uses the famous “Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System” (APKWS II) laser-guided air-to-air rocket. This kind of rocket is the standard 70mm “Hydra” unguided rocket of the “Apache” helicopter. It is the product of adding a semi-active laser seeker modification kit. It weighs about 15 kilograms and can be used on helicopters and fixed-wing fighters with the effective range of 5 kilometers and 11 kilometers respectively.
This kind of precision-guided rocket is not only relatively cheap, but also has high precision and additional damage. Its price is $27,500 (including rocket motor, warhead and laser guidance kit), which is only 1/3 (nearly $100,000) of the semi-active laser-guided “Hellfire”, and even lower than the wired command-guided second-generation anti-tank missile “TOW” ($80,000).
Semi-active laser guidance is a kind of guidance method in which the optical component of the seeker of the rocket/missile tracks the laser spot fired by the aircraft, vehicle or ground guidance unit to the target and hits the target. The CEP accuracy of APKWS II can reach 0.5 meters, so it is also suitable for combating low-altitude and slow-flying weapons. In 2021, the BAE system company used APKWS II precision rockets modified with proximity fuzes to successfully destroy slow-moving small UAVs, laying the foundation for the development of the “Vampire” system.
The “Vampire” system uses a 4-pack of transmitters and an electro-optical/infrared imaging sensor ball and laser pointer, which can be lifted by a telescopic mast, an independent power supply, and a reinforced display with joystick control system. The Vampire can be installed on an ordinary civilian pickup, and the Ukrainian army can also install it on the M113 armored personnel carrier or MRZR off-road vehicle with better protection and speed.
On the Russian-Ukrainian battlefield, the battle between drones and anti-drone systems has become increasingly fierce. After the Ukrainian army used the Turkish-made TB-2 UAV to attack the Russian army positions, on the one hand, the Russian army used the “Pantsir-S” short-range air defense system with better low-altitude interception performance to intercept it. While strengthening its own surveillance and combat drone force, but the russian domestic military industry is not strong enough to produce drones, the russian “Orion” drone similar to the “Predator” has not been able to enter the battlefield. But now, the Iranian-made drones may enter into the battlefield from the russian side.
Recently, an unconfirmed news said that the Russian military intends to introduce as many as 1,000 Iranian-made drones. According to recent reports, Iran had already delivered 46 medium sized drones to the Russian army, which can carry 6 small precision-guided gliding bombs, similar to the improved MQ-1C “Grey Eagle” the number of 1,000 may be exaggerated by the outside world, but even if hundreds of “Persian-made” UAVs are in the hands of the Russian army, it will cause enormous damage to the Ukrainian army.