‘Vampire’ to transform Ukraine pickups into deadly missile launchers - C4ISRNET - 25.08.22

Article for C4ISRNET - By Catherine Buchaniec and Joe Gould.


WASHINGTON — The U.S. is sending Ukraine “Vampire” kits that transform pickup trucks and other non-tactical vehicles into highly portable missile launchers.


As part of a $3 billion package for Ukraine that the Pentagon announced Wednesday, the Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment system is a portable kit that can be installed on most vehicles with a cargo bed for launching the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System or other laser-guided munitions.


The L3Harris-made weapon ― a small, four-barreled rocket launcher and sensor ball ― can be mounted in two hours and operated by a single person, the company said. It can be equipped with missiles to hit ground or air targets including unmanned aircraft systems.


“The Vampire system itself is a counter-UAS system, ” said Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, said at a press briefing Wednesday. “It is a kinetic system that uses small missiles essentially to shoot UAVs out of the sky.”


While the Vampire system isn’t advertised as a counter-drone weapon on L3Harris’ website, Ukraine has used similar munition-style weapons to take down drones throughout its conflict with Russia.


As the Russia conflict crosses the six-month mark, the most recent aid package is aimed at providing sustainable and affordable options to Ukraine. Alongside the Vampire, the Pentagon is also sending Puma drones and a host of ammunition.


“Our VAMPIRE system will provide the Ukrainian people with even more robust capabilities as they continue to defend their country and democracy in Europe,” Melbourne, Fla.-based L3Harris said in a statement to C4ISRNET. “We will continue to offer our steadfast support of their mission.”


Drone warfare has been heavily utilized by both sides in the six-month-old conflict, with many being sourced from countries outside the war.


Kyiv has drawn support from the U.S. and the United Kingdom, both of whom pledged new drones and counter-drone technology to the conflict on Wednesday, Ukraine’s Independence Day. Russia, meanwhile, has looked to Iran to sustain its supply of drones, according to U.S. officials.


The Vampire is part of a larger package in aid to Ukraine, bringing the total amount supplied to the country during the Russia-Ukraine conflict to more than $13.5 billion since the start of the Biden administration.


The Biden administration selected the Vampire — a low-cost and easy-to-assemble weapon compared to other counter-drone measures, such as electronic warfare technologies — for a package advertised as providing supplies for Ukraine’s long-term needs.


“We’re trying to be very deliberate about what systems we think makes the most sense for Ukraine to have in that context, and it also matters very much: Can they sustain it? Can they afford it? Because of course billions of dollars of international assistance may not be something 10 years from now or 20 years from now,” Kahl said.


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About Catherine Buchaniec and Joe Gould

Catherine Buchaniec is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where she covers artificial intelligence, cyber warfare and uncrewed technologies.


Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.

The Vampire, also known as Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment, will be sent to Ukraine as part of the Pentagon's latest aid package. (Courtesy of L3Harris)

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