How the new 'Vampire' anti-drone system could give Ukraine an edge over Russia: report
On August 24th – Ukraine's Independence Day and the six-month anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin's "special military operation" – President Joe Biden announced that the United States would be providing the war-torn nation with an additional $3 billion in aid to defeat Putin's forces.
"The United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue the fight to defend their sovereignty," Biden said in a statement.
The security assistance package includes a multitude of surface-to-air missile systems designed to shoot down drones, which have been a hallmark feature of Putin's bloody conquest.
The newest among them is the Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment – VAMPIRE – which The Daily Beast explained on Wednesday has "unique features" and a "price point" that "put it on the frontier of the evolving fight against small drones."
VAMPIRE is "a four-barrel rocket launcher with a small sensor package on the back of a truck. It’s not exactly hi-tech either: the system fires a missile that’s been produced for a decade and its guidance is traditional. Its advantage, however, is in its modest size and price tag," wrote PhD candidate Marcel Plitcha.
While VAMPIRE is not a "miracle solution for Russian drones in the short-term," Plitcha continued, its simplicity, portability, and relatively low price could give the formidable Ukrainian resistance, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a much-needed boost.
"The VAMPIRE’s munitions cost about $27,000 each—cheap for a guided missile—and the launcher and targeting system can be attached to the back of most pickup trucks. Twenty-seven thousand dollars per round is expensive, but when compared to the U.K.’s $1.5 million Light-Multirole Missile, which was provided to Ukraine and has a similar range against drones, the financial benefits are immediately apparent," Plitcha said. "In sufficient numbers, systems like the VAMPIRE give Ukrainian forces the ability to quickly and cheaply threaten Putin’s drones while saving their most advanced anti-aircraft systems for the most important areas of the country."
There are drawbacks, however. Plitcha noted that VAMPIRE will not be ready for deployment until next year and that its estimated range of is limited to around two miles. It will also likely be an easy target for Russian artillery.
"Civilian trucks to mount it on are plentiful, but they often lack armor, and could be vulnerable if they operate too close to the front. Ultimately, the VAMPIRE will be a part of a broader ecosystem of different kinds of sensors, launchers, and jammers that make up air defense in Eastern Ukraine," Plitcha pointed out, adding that how successful VAMPIRE is in Ukraine will determine its potential use elsewhere.
Nonetheless, Ukraine is fighting for its right to exist as an independent country and for the survival of its culture.
Therefore, Plitcha concluded, "American willingness to help Ukraine shoot down drones points to the future of conflict, where stopping the enemy’s drones is just as vital as stopping their tanks and ships."
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