JERUSALEM — An Israel company has released footage of its Typhoon remote controlled weapons station downing small drones, ahead of the sister conferences IDEX and NAVDEX taking place this month in the United Arab Emirates.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled the video Feb. 17, in which it demonstrated counter-drone capabilities conducted in the last month. The 30mm weapon Typhoon Mk-30c and the 25mm Typhoon variant are in service with several navies around the world, including the U.S. Navy. But it’s the new counter-drone capability that adds to the types of missions the gun can perform.
The company has 32 customers worldwide for the Typhoon and has installed 750 of the systems, according to Ran Tavor, who leads Rafael’s naval warfare systems business.
“We developed enhanced capability for the typhoon family, focusing on the 30mm, because of its caliber and also because of [its ability to use] different types of rounds such as the air burst munition,” Tavor said.
The system offers the operator fire correction, which can minimize the number of rounds needed to down a UAV. The system fires bursts of 10 rounds, and the company says one or two bursts is enough to down a drone threat.
The company also noted that drone swarms are an issue that forces must address “one by one, and do it fast.” “[W]e’ve enhance the magazine from 200 to 400 rounds so you don’t need to load it too often,” the company added.
The capability is operational and the company is offering it to customers as an upgrade to existing systems. It has a range of approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles).
Rafael is also focusing on its sixth-generation Spike NLOS missile system, which it announced last year and customers can now install on ships. With a standoff range of 32 kilometers, Tavor said the sixth-gen version can simultaneously attack a single or different targets with four missiles, “and we can do a handover from a vessel to [another operator] to take control of the target, and it also has the automatic target recognition within the seeker — a library of targets pre-inserted — and it looks automatically to find the right target.”
He added that the capability is suited well to littoral combat areas, or near islands, but can also work during sea-to-sea operations.
The Gulf is a new market for Israel in the wake of the Abraham Accords, which saw the Jewish state improve diplomatic relations with several Arab neighbors. Tavor said Rafael hopes to increase business in the region.
He also sees NAVDEX as an opportunity to highlight these types of weapons because of the drone threat in the “neighborhood” — a reference to the Gulf and nearby areas. Among other attacks, Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities in September 2019 were hit with drone swarms and low-altitude cruise missiles.
A statement from the company noted that the Spike NLOS system “is operational in various navies worldwide and is compatible with a range of warheads.” Rafael says its SPIKE family of systems were so far sold to 39 countries, including 19 NATO countries.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.