EAPS technology

The US Army’s enhanced area protection and survivability (EAPS) technology has successfully shot down two unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) during its final technology demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, US.

During the demonstration, engineers intercepted two class 2 UASs, an outlaw-class aircraft built by Griffon Aerospace, using command guidance and command warhead detonation at over a kilometre range and approximately 1,500m.

The first kilometre range shoot-down was a replication of the test performed in April, in which the EAPS successfully intercepted a loitering UAS, and paved way for some fire-control improvements that were validated during the latest trial.

The second shoot down was executed at a 50% greater range and exceeded the EAPS demonstration objectives.

Developed by the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, the EAPS is a missile-based counter rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) defence system, which has been expanded to include threats from UAS, also called drones.

The technology has been selected as the technical approach for the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2 Intercept Program of Record, the gun alternative continued to mature as force-protection technologies for other potential applications.

The EAPS ARDEC gun alternative to area protection envisions a 50mm cannon to launch command guided interceptors, and uses a precision tracking radar interferometer as a sensor, a fire control computer, and a radio frequency transmitter and receiver to launch the projectile into an engagement ‘basket.’

EAPS Army Technology Objective project officer Manfredi Luciano said: "In order to minimise the electronics on board the interceptor and to make it cheaper, all the ‘smarts’ are basically done on the ground station.

"The computations are done on the ground, and the radio frequency sends the information up to the round."

"The computations are done on the ground, and the radio frequency sends the information up to the round."

The system is able to track both the incoming threat and interceptor and subsequently computes a trajectory correction for the interceptor, which features a thruster for course correction, to maximise probability of mission success.

According to the army, the ground station uplinks the manoeuvre and detonation commands, while receiving downlinked assessment data, after which the interceptor computes roll orientation and time to detonate thruster and warhead.

The warhead has a tantalum-tungsten alloy liner to form forward propelled penetrators to defeat C-RAM targets, and steel body fragments to counter UAS.

The demonstration concludes the EAPS Gun ATO and the ARDEC now awaits counter-UAS requirements, which once generated and approved, will allow the army to configure the technologies developed under EAPS to a new design for a future tactical system.

Image: The operational concept behind the EAPS technology is to have a 50mm course-corrected projectile intercept an incoming threat. Photo: US Army illustration.