VAMPIRE: A pallet kit that makes any pickup truck a rocket launcher in two hours
As part of its $3 billion aid announced on Wednesday, the U.S. is sending Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment (VAMPIRE) system, a portable rocket launcher that can be installed on a pickup truck, Defense News has reported.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, Western allies such as U.S. and U.K. have been providing military aid. Earlier, we reported how the U.S. aid included Switchblade drones, one of which also caused damage that was captured on camera.
With the conflict now having crossed the six-month mark and showing no signs of abating, Ukraine needs long-term support, which is affordable and sustainable in the long run, and the VAMPIRE system is part of that plan.
How does the VAMPIRE System work?
Developed by Melbourne, Florida.-based L3 Harris, the VAMPIRE weapon is a small four-barreled rocket launcher that also includes a sensor ball. The whole assembly can be put together by a two-man crew on the cargo bed of a standard pickup truck in just a couple of hours.
To operate, though, it just needs a single person who can use it for targets on the ground or in the air. According to the information available on L3 Harris' webpage, everything needed to operate the weapon is available on the pallet which negates the need for a 24-volt alternator on the vehicle. Therefore, the weapon can be mounted even on non-tactical vehicles (NTV).
The weapon can be used to launch advanced precision kill weapons systems (APKWS) or other laser-guided munitions. After speculation was rife about which system was being sent to Ukraine, L3 Harris clarified that its rocket-based system was to be sent.
What does it mean for Ukrainian defense?
The decision to send the VAMPIRE system has been taken after considering the changing landscape of the conflict. Over the past few months, the balance has shifted in Russian favor as it has consolidated its air defenses. Ukrainian drones that were once wreaking havoc behind Russian lines have become easy targets, while Russia has stepped up its use of drones in the conflict.
Ukraine is therefore in need of counter-drone measures. Last month, we reported how Ukrainian soldiers were using motorcycle sidecars for missile launchers, although the effective utility of the method was questionable.
With electronic countermeasures being too sophisticated and expensive and supplies of the U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles running short, Ukraine is in need of counter-drone measures. Unlike Stinger-missiles that allow single launches, the VAMPIRE system, with four barrels, can strike multiple targets without the need for reloading. The ability to install them on NTVs means that they can cover a larger area without special needs, Business Insider said in its report.
The system can help the Ukrainian forces reduce the time spent on locking on to their targets and is part of the biggest aid provided by the U.S. so far, which also includes Puma drones, artillery, host of other ammunition and air defense systems.
Speaking to Business Insider, a spokesperson for L3 Harris, however, said that it was yet to receive a formal order from the U.S. government specifying the number of units that needed to be shipped to Ukraine. It expects to deliver the systems within a period of nine months.
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