Drone Killer: Chevy Trucks Now Armed With Powerful Directed Energy Weapons

Sierra Nevada Corp. and its defense partners, Ascent Vision and RADA Technologies, have developed a mobile counter-drone system for the protection of airports, high-value targets, and for the operational use within elite units of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) on the modern battlefield.

Last week, Sierra Nevada brought its X-MADIS (eXpeditionary Mobile Aerial Defense Integrated System) mounted on a militarized, 2018 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck to the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC), which stirred up massive interest within the special operations community, said Defense News.

Sierra Nevada, Ascentvision and RADA Technologies Inc. brought its counter-drone system to SOFIC. (Source: Sierra Nevada Corp)

For SOFIC, the company decided to integrate the X-MADIS into the bed of a light pickup truck. Why?… Well, on the modern battlefield, or what the Army likes to call “hybrid wars,” special forces are now using nondescript, armored light pickup trucks and Polaris dune buggies in Africa and the Middle East. It is a perfect civilian cover, as the enemy tends to have difficulties identifying the vehicle from friend or foe at long distances.

The X-MADIS features a Rada RPS-42 pMHR radar detection system, the Ascent camera system CM-202U EO/IR multi-sensor gimbal for identification, and the Sierra Nevada SkyCap counter drone Mode E-jammer. The directed energy weapon has a range of about two miles and can detect, identify, and destroy enemy drone swarms while the vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed.

Sierra Nevada, Ascentvision and RADA Technologies Inc. brought its counter-drone system to SOFIC. (Source: Sierra Nevada Corp)

Sierra Nevada Corp. has been working with its partner’s Ascent Vision and the Israeli company RADA Technologies Inc. to develop the X-MADIS for the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) modernization efforts to prepare for the next two decades of hybrid wars.

Defense News said special forces are currently using the X-MADIS mounted on a Polaris Defense MRZR in an unknown location, most likely somewhere in Africa or Syria.

Polaris Defense MRZR. (Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD))

Sierra Nevada Corp. selected its partners because of their “best of breed” in critical technologies that make the direct energy weapon so effective, according to Jerry Coburn, Sierra Nevada’s director of business development, who spoke to Defense News during the show.

“The system can detect, identify and defeat threats through EW attack while on the move at up to 50 mph,” Coburn said. The X-MADIS weapon requires just two special force operators, one driving the vehicle and the other managing the system using a tablet from within the cab of the truck.

Defense News said X-MADIS had been successfully tested on other military vehicles, including the Polaris MRZR dune buggy, a mine-resistant vehicle, and an ambush-protected vehicle.

“We recognize the effectiveness of the system is only as good as our knowledge of the threats that exist out there around the globe,” Coburn said. “And currently those are largely commercial off-the-shelf. But we know that our adversaries will never rest as they continue to develop their tactics, techniques and procedures and incorporate new controller technologies.” The challenge is to maintain pace with the rapidly changing drone market, Coburn added.

At the SOFIC, there was much interest from non-DoD clients, such as law enforcement, border patrol, and other organizations that secure high-value infrastructure assets within the U.S. Next month, Sierra Nevada Corp. will participate in the SOFWERX ThunderDrone Rapid Prototyping event at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. SOFWERX is another special operations conference designed to help private industry and DoD organizations form relationships to test and acquire new military capabilities.

As for now, it seems as Sierra Nevada Corp. is taking full advantage of President Donald Trump’s enormous military spending bill that was signed in March. The DoD and its armed forces are about to get a flood of new shiny toys to deploy in the hybrid wars around the world.