TechUkrainian forces use American Vampire system to down Iranian drone: The affordable and precise countermeasure

Ukrainian forces use American Vampire system to down Iranian drone: The affordable and precise countermeasure

The Iranian drone Shahed just before being hit by an APKWS missile fired from the VAMPIRE system.
The Iranian drone Shahed just before being hit by an APKWS missile fired from the VAMPIRE system.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | OSINTtechnical
9:22 AM EST, February 12, 2024

In the vicinity of Odessa, Ukrainians brought down an Iranian Shahed drone with an as-yet unknown anti-aircraft system operating on laser-guided rockets. It was unveiled later that the Iranian drone was taken down using the VAMPIRE system, which employs the cost-effective APKWS rockets.

This is only second to barrel-based anti-aircraft solutions like the Gepard or Skynex in terms of cost. As such it, it's an ideal solution for dealing with slow-flying drones and beyond.

An affordable drone countermeasure utilizing old rocket projectiles – mountable even on a pickup

The full name of the VAMPIRE system is Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment, built around the lightweight container launcher LAND-LGR4 from Arnold Defense. The launcher itself weighs a mere 60 lbs and can house four 2.76-inch caliber rockets. Notably, it offers immense versatility and can be mounted on various vehicles.

An integral component of the VAMPIRE system is a module incorporating a thermal imaging camera and a laser pointer. This system allows the launched APKWS rockets to be guided with precision. The rockets provide pinpoint accuracy, with a circular error probability of less than 1 yard, all at a remarkably competitive price.

These APKWS rockets are essentially reconfigured, plentiful, unguided Hydra 2.76-inch caliber rockets, produced en masse during the Cold War era. These rockets are fitted with a section equipped with stabilizers and a laser-guided navigation module. This module locks onto reflected laser light originating from the target.

This is the most basic guidance method, immune to countermeasure systems such as flares or electronic warfare. However, it necessitates ongoing guidance of the launched rocket until it engages the target. Also, modern helicopters equipped with laser beam radiation detectors pose a risk of shelling the launcher due to their ability to pinpoint the emitter's exact location.

When used against terrestrial targets, these APKWS rockets' effective range is likely between 1.55 and 1.86 miles. Although this figure is less than the 3.10 miles claimed for helicopter launches, the VAMPIRE system exhibits remarkable adaptability. It can engage both aerial and land-based targets, such as enemy fortifications or armored vehicles, like BTR armored personnel carriers or infantry fighting vehicles from the BMP family. This capability depends on the variants of the 2.76-inch caliber rockets used.

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