American-made VAMPIRE surface-to-air missile system knocking out Russia’s Shahid kamikaze drones

A video footage appears to show a Ukrainian-operated VAMPIRE surface-to-air missile system knocking out a Russian Shahid kamikaze drone in the latest video emphasizing the importance of Western-supplied air defence systems for Kyiv.

In a brief clip published by Ukraine’s navy and shared by open-source intelligence accounts, an operator’s view appears to show a portable surface-to-air missile system successfully striking a Russian Shahed strike drone with laser-guided munitions.

The video is the first recorded glimpse of a VAMPIRE air defense system in combat conditions in Ukraine, according to Ukrainian media reports.

“VAMPIRE was supplied to Ukraine some time ago for exactly this type of anti-drone mission, so it is no surprise at all to see it being used this way,” military and weapons expert David Hambling told Newsweek.

VAMPIRE, or Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment, is described by manufacturer L3Harris Technologies as a “portable kit” compatible with a variety of vehicles, including non-military pickups.

Once installed, the VAMPIRE can launch advanced precision kill weapons systems (APKWS) or other types of laser-guided munitions.

The U.S. has supplied VAMPIRE counter-unmanned aerial systems and munitions to Ukraine as part of its air defense aid packages to Kyiv. Keeping Ukraine’s air defenses stocked and operational is one of Kyiv’s biggest concerns, increasingly becoming the focus of recent military support from the country’s Western backers.

Ukraine’s extensive network of air defenses include large batteries such as the U.S.-made Patriot — credited with intercepting Kinzhal missiles the Kremlin had touted as hypersonic — and small-caliber machine guns targeting airborne drones.

In early January, Sergiy Nayev, then-commander of Ukraine’s joint forces, said Ukraine had enough ammunition for its man-portable air defense systems to “withstand the next few powerful attacks.” Russia is trying to deplete Ukraine’s expensive interceptor missile stocks, Nayev said.

The VAMPIRE system is a cost-effective way of tackling Russia’s constant drone barrages, Hambling told Newsweek, adding the system’s rockets cost a fraction of the price tag attached to Stinger air defense missiles and other air defense assets.

“These systems are likely to be much in demand,” he added. With Russia reportedly increasing its domestic production of Shahed drones, “there will be a real war of attrition between attack and defense as Russia attempts to exhaust Ukrainian missile supplies,” Hambling said.

The Iranian-designed Shahed drones have long been a feature of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and major cities. They are relatively easy for air defenses to intercept, but can be difficult to detect in time to do so.

Russia has now established domestic facilities for producing the Shahed drones, and has adapted the designs to make them harder for Ukraine to shoot down.

Early on Tuesday, Ukraine’s air force said Russian forces had launched 23 Shahed drones from sites in Russia’s Krasnodar region and from the annexed Crimean peninsula, which Moscow has controlled since 2014.

Ukrainian air defenses destroyed 16 of the drones over the southern Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, the air force said.

© 2024, GDC. © GDC and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.