The site of an area hit by a Russian drone and missile strikes strike, in Kyiv region, on August 30, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Kyiv: Ukraine’s troops are now using a US rocket system known as the Vampire to destroy Russian drones, according to the Pentagon.

Produced by L3Harris Technologies Inc., the weapons are carried on trucks and allow Ukraine to defeat Russian strikes, the Pentagon’s Acquisition and Sustainment Office told Bloomberg News.

“Initial Vampire systems have been delivered and are in operation by Ukrainian Armed Forces,” it said.

Four of the first 14 systems put on contract in January under a $40 million deal arrived in Ukraine midyear, according to a company newsletter to investors, with the rest to come by year-end.

The Pentagon declined to provide details on the timing of further deliveries.

Kyiv’s allies have raced to provide Ukraine with defence capabilities as Russia has used drones, including the Iranian-made Shahed-136, to devastating effect in its war.

Short for “Vehicle Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment,” the Vampire system consists of portable kits that can be installed on US government-provided vehicles. It fires BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System rockets outfitted with fuses designed to detonate near a drone.

In April, the Pentagon said is contracting for 10 mobile laser-guided anti-drone systems, but it hasn’t provided further details on those.

Unlike the bulk of US military aid to Ukraine, which comes from existing stocks, the Vampire contract taps the defense industry directly under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.