Ukraine’s Armed Forces finally delivered counter-uncrewed aerial system (C-UAS) platforms known as the Vehicle Agnostic Modular Palletised ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) Rocket Equipment, also referred to by its abbreviation: ‘VAMPIRE’.
Initially sent as part of a US Department of Defense (DoD) military aid package in January 2023, the western donor sent the final $40m rocket-launching platform to the war-torn country, according to an 11 December press release issued by the original equipment manufacturer L3Harris.
A week earlier, on 6 December, the US Navy stated that “We delivered the first four systems in only six months by leveraging an innovative contracting strategy and working diligently to keep pace with the system’s rapid development.”
VAMPIRE is a compact, palletised rocket-launching platform that consists of a sensor ball and four-shot Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) launchers designed to mount to any truck with a flatbed. The US Navy and Army have traditionally used APKWS against air-to-ground targets.
Importance of VAMPIRE as Russia strikes infrastructure
With VAMPIRE, the laser-guided rocket can defend against uncrewed aerial threats – an effective and cost-effective method of warfare that Russia relies upon.
As the Ukrainian Army enters a period of winter attrition, invading Russian forces have begun targetting the nation’s civilian infrastructure to erode morale, adding to Ukraine’s stagnant counter-offensive, which the DoD Press Secretary, Major General Pat Ryder, described as moving “back and forth.”
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On 9 December, Ukrainian General Staff reported that their air defences downed a Kh-29 missile and Shahed-136 UASs and that Russian forces struck Velykyi Burluk, in the Kharkiv region with two S-300 missiles the following day.
Likewise, on 10 December, the UK Ministry of Defence assessed that Russian forces likely conducted their first missile strike series of the anticipated winter campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure on the night of 7 December.
“Early customer reports say VAMPIRE is already having a positive effect in Ukraine thanks to the U.S. Navy’s ability to respond with ‘unprecedented speed and agility,’” said Jason Lambert, president of ISR at L3Harris. “As adversary tactics evolve, our customers rely on us to anticipate, design and rapidly deliver reliable mission capabilities. We’ll continue partnering with the [DoD] to field critical capabilities that will help save lives.”
VAMPIRE’s mission management system integrates an advanced infrared/electro-optical targetting sensor system, Wescam MX-10 RSTA, with its weapons station, allowing an operator to engage targets quickly and accurately.