What is VAMPIRE and how can it help Ukraine?

The US-made weapon system provides a rapid and low-cost solution against ground and unmanned aerial threats.

Ukraine has recently reported successful operations to defend itself from unmanned drones, particularly praising the US-made weapon called VAMPIRE, which stands for the Vehicle-Agnostic Modular Palletised Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Rocket Equipment.

While the VAMPIRE system has not been advertised as a counter-drone weapon on L3Harris’ website, Ukraine uses similar munition-style weapons to take down drones throughout its conflict with Russia.

VAMPIRE represents a portable multi-purpose weapon system innovatively crafted by L3Harris, a prominent aerospace and defense technology company based in the United States. 

Engineered to seamlessly adapt to any tactical or non-tactical vehicle boasting a flat surface, this modular palletized system offers ground forces a rapid, cost-effective, and efficient means of deploying weaponry.

The VAMPIRE system can be outfitted with cutting-edge precision kill weapon systems like APKWS, as well as other laser-guided munitions, enabling precise strike capabilities against enemy drones and adversary ground threats. 

Development and testing

L3Harris initiated the development of the VAMPIRE system in 2021, proceeding to conduct field tests within the same year. The company conducted range and durability assessments, culminating in the submission of an advanced prototype to the US Department of Defense (DoD) in April 2022.

The VAMPIRE system made its debut and showcased its capabilities successfully at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Florida, in May 2022.

Notably, it was selected as a component of the US Government's 2.98-billion-dollar security assistance package under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) in August 2022. In response, L3Harris intensified its investments in procurement, testing, and certification processes to expedite the production of the VAMPIRE system. 

Design and features

The VAMPIRE system boasts a self-contained design, allowing for the integration of diverse sensors and weapons packages tailored to specific mission requirements.

Configurable with the battle-proven APKWS or other laser-guided munitions, this system empowers special operations and light forces to swiftly track, laser-designate, and engage ground and air targets beyond the reach of conventional weaponry. When coupled with L3Harris' proximity fuze, the weapon system enhances blast effectiveness and lethality.

The system, according to the Army Technology, seamlessly integrates with L3Harris' WESCAM MX-10 RSTA, a fully digital, high-definition, multi-sensor, and multi-spectral sighting system, facilitating reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition missions. The HD resolution and 360° panoramic views provided by the sighting system enhance situational awareness for conducting long-range covert operations. 

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Installation of the VAMPIRE system on military or civilian vehicles with cargo beds is a swift two-hour process, easily managed two people using common tools. Its modular and portable design permits rapid concealment, relocation, and firing sequences. Notably, the system includes its own power supply solution, eliminating the need for a 24V alternator on the host vehicles.

It takes one person to operate the system, which can be configured to meet customer-specific requirements, the company says.

Orders and deliveries

L3Harris secured a contract under the USAI valued at 40 million dollars from the DoD in January 2023, earmarking the delivery of 14 VAMPIRE systems to the Ukrainian security forces.

Delivery of four VAMPIRE systems completed by mid-2023, with the remaining ten units anticipated to reach their destination by the year-end. Under the DoD contract, L3Harris will install the VAMPIRE kits on vehicles provided by the US Government.

These multi-purpose weapon systems, configured with APKWS, are destined to safeguard Ukraine's civilian infrastructure against Russian drone attacks and ground threats.

Before the Russian invasion in February 2022, L3Harris was expected to deliver VAMPIRE systems mainly to the US Navy.