What is the Vampire system? Ukraine finds affordable defence against drone threats copy

Ukraine released a video showing its Vampire air defence system engaging an Iran-made Shahed 136 drone launched by Russia. Ukraine began using US-supplied Vampire systems a few months ago.

While Ukraine has been using expensive air defence systems to shoot down Shahed 136 kamikaze drones for more than a year, the new Vampire system has emerged as a cost-effective anti-drone solution for Ukraine.

In January 2023, the Pentagon awarded a $40 million contract to L3 Harris for the procurement of 14 Vampire air defence systems to provide Ukraine.

Ukraine received the first system in August 2023, with all the systems scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2023. However, it is not clear how many systems Ukraine has received yet.

The Vampire is a mobile counter-UAS precision rocket system specifically designed for Ukraine. The system uses APKWS, the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, integrating laser guidance technology to ensure pinpoint accuracy in engaging hostile drones.

Additionally, the system features EO/IR sensors for detecting and tracking targets in both day and night conditions, enabling precise guidance of rockets onto targets. Mounted on a 4×4 platform, the Vampire system offers high mobility, enhancing its effectiveness in rapidly responding to threats.

Russia is using Iranian Shahed 136 kamikaze drones to strike Ukraine almost every day. As they are cheaper to produce in significant numbers, the Russian military is launching these drones in large quantities to saturate Ukrainian air defences.

While the Shahed 136 drones cost about $21,000 each, Ukraine has even used NASAMS missiles, which cost $1 million, against these drones to protect key installations.

To address this challenge, the western allies provided some low-cost missiles such as ASRAAM, costing around $262,000.

Now, the APKWS rocket in the Vampire system costs just $22,500, which is almost equivalent to the cost of the Shahed 136 drone.

While 14 systems are not enough to guard the entire frontline, Ukraine requires more such systems to counter the ongoing threats.

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About Vinay Sadham


The writer is a defence enthusiast and content creator with over 8 years of experience. He runs a YouTube channel called Telugu Defence News. He can be contacted at [email protected]