TechPoland's Tarnów Mechanical Works pioneers anti-drone warfare technology

Poland's Tarnów Mechanical Works pioneers anti-drone warfare technology

"The monster from Tarnów" mounted on a pick-up during the MSPO fair.
"The monster from Tarnów" mounted on a pick-up during the MSPO fair.
Images source: © Own materials | Przemysław Juraszek
8:12 AM EDT, March 17, 2024
Drones pose a significant threat in modern warfare, as evident in the conflict in Ukraine. The Tarnów Mechanical Works (TMW) in Poland is pioneering a diverse arsenal aimed at countering this threat, including the development of microwave weapons.
During a visit to TMW, we were shown the latest versions and future prospects of the notorious "monster from Tarnów" and microwave weapons. This device, which was demonstrated at a shooting range test in 2022, has garnered attention from both Russia and Ukraine, according to Virtual Poland journalist Adam Gaafar. However, TMW's anti-drone initiatives extend beyond this single solution.
### TMW's Venture into Electromagnetic Weaponry
In an interview with WP Tech, TMW's R&D director, Krzysztof Lustofin, shared insights into two ambitious programs named "Rosemary" and "Vector", both sponsored by the National Center for Research and Development. With the National Center for Nuclear Research helming "Vector", the aim is to develop electromagnetic weapons. TMW is primarily responsible for designing a fire control system to detect and track targets in these programs.
The "Rosemary" program, for instance, strives to create a microwave weapon capable of delivering power upwards of 1 GW, drawing conceptual parallels to America's Leonidas system by Epirus. Lustofin aims to reach the sixth level of technological readiness by May 2026, which involves building a technology demonstrator for near-real tests. Progressing to the ninth level, i.e., readiness for mass production, is expected to take at least six years.
The "monster from Tarnów" has been subject to intense interest and remains in the prototype stage, with Ukraine being one of the potential export destinations. According to Lustofin, approximately 36 months are required before the drone combat system can achieve the ninth level of technological readiness and proceed to production, contingent on funding from domestic or international clients.
Significant modifications have been implemented since its debut in 2022. The latest version incorporates a stabilization system, enabling the protection of moving convoys and efforts to reduce the system's weight. Nevertheless, its combat weight is likely to remain nearly 1,322 pounds, attributed to an increased ammunition capacity of over 400 rounds.
The observation head will be detached from the launcher and possibly mounted on a vehicle's roof, allowing for versatile installation across multiple vehicles. There's a discussion about integrating the anti-drone system onto Light Reconnaissance Vehicles produced by Rosomak S.A., akin to KIA's KLTV.
Moreover, the radar system will be enhanced to feature four fixed antennas for 360-degree continuous monitoring. TMW is currently evaluating various radar solutions, both domestic and international, addressing the initial lack of suitable radars in Poland in 2019. The "monster from Tarnów" can function independently or within a larger system.
At its core, the system boasts a 110-pound four-barreled machine gun WLKM 12.7 with a 3,600 rnds./min firing rate. This firepower is sufficient to engage flying targets, light fortifications, and lightly armored vehicles using armor-piercing ammunition, such as the MM173 rounds capable of penetrating approximately 0.87 inches of armor steel at 765 yards.
WLKM 12.7 has an effective range of 1.24 miles, but for targeting the smallest drones, an optimal range is up to 547 yards, ensuring a near-certain chance of elimination without excessive ammo consumption. The fire control system and radar enable simultaneous detection and tracking of multiple targets, facilitating prioritized engagement based on proximity and speed.
Consequently, TMW has crafted a highly effective last-chance anti-drone CIWS (Close-In Weapon System) that surpasses the Pilica system's capabilities and is more readily integrated into light platforms. The interest in "the monster from Tarnów" continues to grow, with TMW receiving numerous inquiries about this powerful anti-drone solution.
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