The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to send counter-drone systems to Ukraine over the next year as Russia continues to target Ukrainian energy systems with Iranian-made weapons.
Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday that the department plans to send vehicle-independent modular palletized ISR rocket equipment, or VAMPIRE, to Ukraine by mid-2023. Ryder added that a contract for the VAMPIRE systems should be finalized in the coming months.
“Air defense continues to be a priority,” Ryder said during the briefing.
The DOD first promised to supply the Ukrainian military with VAMPIRE systems on August 24 as part of a $3 billion package announced on Ukraine’s Independence Day. As of Oct. 28, the United States had sent about $17.9 million in security assistance since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, the DOD reported.
The VAMPIRE system is capable of targeting drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles as well as non-tactical vehicles, such as pickup trucks, according to the L3Harris website. The system is also designed to be “economical” and can fit any van or vehicle loading platform.
The United States has already sent about 1,400 Stinger short-range air defense weapons to Ukraine, the DOD reported, and plans to send two of the promised eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, within weeks. coming.
A senior DOD defense official said in a press release on Monday that Russia “continues its campaign of terrorist attacks against Ukraine as it targets civilian infrastructure” and reiterated that Russia’s air defense Ukraine remained a priority.
“Damage to the power grid and water supply are serious concerns that directly harm the civilian population,” the official added.
Russia has turned to one of its few allies, Iran, to supply drones and other equipment in its continued attack on Ukraine. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry claimed last week that Russian troops had received Iranian-made body armor and helmets after Russia reported it was struggling to produce equipment for soldiers.
The UK Ministry of Defense has acknowledged Ukraine’s success in destroying Iranian drones so far. However, while a new delivery of Russian-made Killjoy missiles was reportedly spotted in Belarus on Tuesday, Ukraine’s air defense system still needs an upgrade to protect against Russian attacks.
In his overnight address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday thanked the allies for their efforts to provide an “air shield for Ukraine”.
“I’m sure that when we together provide Ukraine with reliable protection against this partnership – the Russian and Iranian regimes – it will be one of the strongest pages in the history of our state,” Zelensky said.
Newsweek contacted the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense for comment on the VAMPIRE systems.