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Innovative defence against the growing UAV threat

Military Vehicle systems talks to EOS - Australia about their Slinger product

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In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles have been intensively developed. Today, they are used not only in the army, but also outside it - for monitoring threats, conducting surveillance or searching for missing people. They have already proven useful for conducting reconnaissance tasks deep inside enemy territory, and as offensive weapons. The wide spectrum of tasks for which drones can be used shows their role in future armed conflicts is likely to further increase. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct research not only on developing drones, but also on the ways to counter them. It is important both for defending against enemy attack during war and for protecting critical infrastructure in times of peace, e.g. against terrorist attacks.

The effectiveness of military vehicles has come into question in the face of drones and loitering munitions, so it is great to see an on-the-go defence system that can work for vehicles, allowing speedy UAV destruction.

Q: Could we start with a brief history of EOS?

A: EOS has designed, manufactured and exported advanced technology systems for nearly 40 years. As a world leader in the global defence and space sectors, we focus on developing products and services that include state-of-the-art remote weapon and counter-drone systems, on-the-move satellite communications and advanced space technologies.

Founded in 1983 primarily as an offshoot from Commonwealth work in the space industry, our initial support was directed towards the US space efforts. Our entry into the defence market stemmed from our capability to build ruggedised optical payloads for space launches, including the ability to control these payloads under challenging conditions, which enabled us to achieve very precise tracking and engagement capabilities. This led to our development of remote weapon stations.

Q: One of the main challenges on the modern battlefield is countering loitering munitions and drones aimed directly at vehicles on the move. Could you discuss how the Slinger system addresses these threats with a focus on its stability and the technological advancements that differentiate it from other counter-drone systems?

A: The system features a state-of-the-art fire control system, capable of automatically tracking and acquiring targets, allowing the operator to engage at a chosen time. It utilises advanced algorithms for target detection and tracking, ensuring high precision in threat engagements. The system is fully stabilised with a four-axis gimbal employing three-axis (yaw, pitch and roll) stabilization of the sensor unit that allows exquisite pointing on the move. The system's modular design allows for easy integration with existing platforms, rapid battle damage repair and can accommodate various weapon types, including machine guns, cannons, rockets and missiles.

Slinger's innovative approach to counter-drone technology, combining advanced software, precise targeting and versatile weapon options, sets it apart as a leading solution in the field. Its ability to provide effective and efficient drone defeat capabilities makes it a valuable asset for military and security forces worldwide.

Slinger's effectiveness is further enhanced by its ability to operate in both day, night and almost all-weather conditions, providing continuous protection against drone threats. Its robust design ensures reliable performance in harsh environments, making it suitable for deployment in diverse operational settings.

The ability to be integrated with a multitude of Battle Management Systems (BMS), including NATO STANAG compatibility allows for longer-range cueing and, with appropriate ammunition, a higher probability of kill (PEK). Additionally, the Echodyne Fire Control Radar enhances the superior accuracy for the system.

Q: How does the Slinger system accurately identify targets and differentiate between friendly and hostile unmanned vehicle systems (UVS)?

A: The system doesn't identify targets, the operator does. The sensor is optical, so the target must be in the field of view. However, for counter-drone operations we have added a targeting radar to assist in non-optical tracking. We are actively working with AI companies to automate target identification. However, when integrated into a Battlefield level system the Slinger quickly gains the Recognised Air Picture (RAP) from the native sensors within the battlegroup.

Q: What safety features are incorporated into the system, especially considering operations in urban areas?

A: The system includes inherent safety features designed to protect the crew and equipment. When the system is stationary, no-fire zones can be programmed to prevent the weapon firing in specific directions. Additionally, the inherent Human-in-the-loop (HITL) nature of the system ensures positive target discrimination before release of ordnance.

Q: Can you discuss the training and operational requirements for personnel using the Slinger system?

A: The system requires just one operator. It is designed to be quick and easy to learn, with training taking approximately two weeks. Its ease of use and minimal training requirement ensure rapid deployment and operational readiness in various scenarios. All of the EOS RWS use the same control system so if trained on one, an operator can operate all. The major difference is in the weapons loadout.

Q: How does the Slinger system integrate with existing military infrastructure and communication systems?

A: Slinger is BMS C4I architecture agnostic - that is, able to be integrated with Generic Vehicle Architecture or other customer specified configurations - as well as platform agnostic and not tied to any specific weapon, sub-system or interface systems.

Q: What feedback have you received from field operations involving the Slinger system; how has this feedback influenced its development and what future enhancements are planned to address evolving drone threats?

A: We have received significant feedback during development and user trials of the Slinger system. Currently we are moving into wireless versions for employment on uncrewed ground vehicles (UGVs).

We continuously adapt to technological advancements and customer preferences. Our systems are increasingly being integrated with rockets and missiles, such as the APKWS 70mm rocket system, 70mm unguided rockets and missiles. Our options are expanding, offering greater range and targeting capabilities.

Q: What have been the key successes of Slinger in the international markets?

A: We have had success in the US market with the sale of Slinger systems to the US government. The systems are intended for integration into the Northrop Grumman Agnostic Gun Truck (AGT), enhancing its counter-drone capabilities.

Additionally, the German government has acquired Slinger systems for deployment in Ukraine to protect IRIS-T radar systems from small drone threats. This sale, valued at approximately A$15 million, highlights the growing demand for our counter-drone technology in international markets.

Q: Any other successes outside of Slinger for counter-drone?

A: Outside of Slinger, EOS has been collaborating with L3Harris on its R150 gimbal, which is being used in Ukraine on the L3Harris VAMPIRE systems. The R150 gimbal provides precise targeting capabilities, enhancing the effectiveness of these counter-drone systems in the field.

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