M61 Vulcan Cannon Being Examined by Israel for Countering Drones

Defence Industry

Jerusalem: Israel is examining the M61 Vulcan cannon to counter drones, according to the Israel Defence Forces, with local media reporting the weapon would go atop armoured personnel carriers deployed along the northern border.

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The potential acquisition comes as the country clashes with the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah, which launched drones and missiles toward Israel in April.

The Israel-based Alma Research and Education Centre recently estimated that Hezbollah has more than 2,500 UAVs for various purposes, such as intelligence gathering and attack. The centre added that drone attacks on Israel increased from seven in February to 24 in March.

The Israel Defence Forces placed drone-detection systems across the northern border to improve the response time and accuracy of interceptions, and in the military’s Northern Command established a unit dedicated to targeting drones. Still, Hezbollah was reportedly able to send a drone into Israeli airspace in May to attack a military facility.

The M61 is a six-barrel, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon able to fire 6,000 rounds per minute. It has been in use on the US military’s fixed-wing aircraft for decades. The American firm General Dynamics produces the weapon.

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It has also been in service with the Israel Air Force since 1975, and received modifications as the Machbet variant. The force stationed the weapon at the northern border on top of the M113 armoured personnel carrier, known locally as the Bardehlas, until it was retired in 2006.

Use of the Vulcan cannon relies mainly on ground forces identifying UAV threats to target.

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Israeli defence companies that currently provide counter-drone products are Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. Both companies declined to comment for this story, as did the Israeli Defence Ministry.

However, an IDF spokesperson said the military “does not have Vulcan cannons at the moment. It, along with others solutions, are being tested at this stage in trials in the defence industries as part of our process of building military strength in the war.”

“There are a variety of measures, some in an operational trial, and others in the research and development phase, alongside adjustments in the operational activity in the field,” the spokesperson added.