General Dynamics, Epirus team up to integrate counter-drone swarm system on combat vehicles

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WASHINGTON — 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 Oct. 25 Epirus statement.

The strategic teaming agreement sets up a collaboration to integrate Epirus’ Leonidas directed energy system and broader high-power microwave technology into the GDLS-manufactured U.S. Army Stryker combat vehicle and other manned and unmanned ground combat vehicles to provide Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) capabilities, the statement said.

The Army recently fielded its first platoon of Stryker-based SHORAD systems to Europe. This summer, the service chose a team with Raytheon Technologies as the laser module provider to supply four SHORAD 50-kilowatt-class directed energy-capable Strykers.

But the Leonidas system integrated on a Stryker is meant to address drone swarms, not just singular drone threats, a rising problem for the U.S. military as it develops counter-unmanned aircraft systems capability.

The U.S. Army is set to begin development and integration in fiscal 2022 of a high-power microwave capability to destroy small drone threats.

The Leonidas system is primarily designed to use high-power microwave capability to take out airborne drone swarms, but also has the ability to knock out vehicles and sea vessels, Bo Marr, the co-founder of Epirus, told Defense News in an interview at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference earlier this month.

“Leonidas can put our adversaries into the dark ages,” he said. “It really works against any electronics.”

Epirus has conducted multiple field demonstrations in an undisclosed location in the U.S. Southwest with attendees across the services observing Leonidas’ capabilities. The company has demonstrated it is an all-weather system capable of handling below-freezing temperatures as well as very hot climates, according to Marr.

The system “delivers unprecedented power and performance in a dramatically smaller form factor and is the only directed energy weapon with a proven ability to counter swarming drones and execute precision strikes at range,” according to the new statement.

Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at 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.

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Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.