Counter-Drone Demo for US Army Being Planned by BAE Systems, New Prototype AMPV to be Used

Defence Industry

London: BAE Systems plans to demonstrate for the US Army its ability to equip the service’s new multi-purpose ground vehicle with a 30mm turret – capable of fending off aerial drones later this year, according to company officials.

“The company has used internal investment to modify a general purpose variant of the AMPV to be outfitted with a turret and that a November live fire test demonstration in Nevada will focus on defeating enemy UAVs,” said Bill Sheehy, AMPV program director at BAE. He stressed that although the company has selected a turret for the demo, BAE remains “agnostic” about which gun would be used if the Army chose to move forward with developing another variant of the AMPV.

There are five variants of AMPV currently : general purpose, medical evacuation, medical treatment, mission command and mortar carrier. In August, the Army inked a $797 million deal with BAE following the decision to green light “full-rate production” for an unspecific number of vehicles. Full rate production signifies that the Army is satisfied with both the vehicle’s design and the company’s production processes and is a Pentagon acquisition milestone.

According to Sheehy, the company plans to finish “low-rate initial production” — the milestone that immediately precedes full-rate production — at the end of the next year. “That is a huge signal from the Army, that they are committed to the program, that they are satisfied with all the requirements [and] that they want it in the field,” he said.

In recent years, Counter-UAS capabilities have become more prevalent — a trend sure to continue particularly among the Pentagon and the US military services considering successful uses of drones by Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.  The Swedish arm of BAE Systems, whose parent company is headquartered here in the United Kingdom, has also been examining whether counter-drone equipment could be outfitted on its armoured personnel carrier.

At the DSEI show, along with AMPV the personnel variant of BAE’s Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), which was developed for the US Marine Corps was on display. The ACV has four variants: personnel, command and control, a 30mm cannon and recovery — each of which are in different stages of development. The personnel variant is built primarily for carrying Marines, accommodating a driver, commander, gunner and 13 passengers — a number derived to suit the Marine Corps’ rifle squadron size, said Garrett Lacaillade, vice president of amphibious vehicles at BAE.

“One of the unique design considerations for ACV was to mount most of the interior seating and floor to a frame wrapped around the inside of the vehicle and connected to springs. In practice, that means if an explosion took place underneath or near the ACV’s exterior walls, the springs would absorb most of the energy, keeping the vehicle’s occupants safe,” said Lacaillade.

BAE has delivered 200 plus ACVs to the Marine Corps, largely personnel variants. Command and control vehicle deliveries are scheduled to begin in the next several months. The company is building test representative models of the 30mm cannon and the recovery variant, which will be equipped with a crane and a winch, remains in development, Lacaillade said. The ACV at the show floor is not a prototype or used only for displays, it is owned by the Marine Corps and will be shipped back to the service following DSEI,” he said.