WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Dynamics Land Systems and venture capital-backed startup Epirus have teamed up to integrate a counter-drone swarm system on combat vehicles, according to an October 25 Epirus statement. .
Strategic team agreement sets up collaboration to integrate Epire’s Leonidas directed energy system and larger high-power microwave technology into the US Army Stryker combat vehicle manufactured by GDLS and other vehicles ground combat vehicles with and without a pilot to provide short-range air defense (SHORAD), the statement said.
The military recently deployed its first platoon of Stryker-based SHORAD systems to Europe. This summer, the service selected a team with Raytheon Technologies as a supplier of laser modules to deliver four Stryker directed energy capacity SHORAD 50 kilowatt class.
But the Leonidas system built into a Stryker is meant to deal with drone swarms, not just singular drone threats, a growing problem for the U.S. military as it develops unmanned counter-aircraft systems capabilities. .
The U.S. military is expected to begin development and integration in fiscal 2022 of a high-power microwave capability to destroy threats from small drones.
The Leonidas system is primarily designed to use the high-power microwave capability to eliminate swarms of airborne drones, but also has the ability to destroy vehicles and ships, Bo Marr, co-founder of Epirus, told Defense News in an interview at the U.S. Army Association’s annual conference earlier this month.
“Leonidas can plunge our opponents into the dark ages,” he said. “It really works against any electronic device.”
Epirus conducted several field demonstrations at an undisclosed location in the southwestern United States with participants from all departments observing Leonidas’ abilities. The company has shown it to be an all-weather system capable of handling sub-freezing temperatures as well as very hot climates, according to Marr.
The system “delivers unprecedented power and performance in a considerably smaller form factor and is the only directed energy weapon with a proven ability to counter swarm drones and execute precision strikes from a distance,” according to the new press release.
Jen Judson is the Ground War Reporter for Defense News. She covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a journalist for Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club’s Best Analytical Reporting Award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards’ Best Young Defense Journalist in 2018.