In September 2023, the United States Army unveiled a cutting-edge counter-drone weapon system during the “Red Sands 23.2” exercise at the Shamal-2 Range in Saudi Arabia. Managed by the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), the exercise showcased containerized anti-drone weapon systems designed and built by Invariant Corporation and HDT Global.
These portable and rugged containers are armed with four-round rocket launchers equipped with laser-guided 70 mm rockets and advanced detection systems, making them ideal for ad hoc defense against drones in remote or austere locations. The exercise, part of the “Red Sands Live Effects 23.2,” focused on testing and fielding counter-small unmanned aerial systems (c-sUAS) and aimed to optimize interoperability between partners and systems.
The counter-drone weapon system features the Arnold Defense LAND-LGR4 four-round 70mm rocket launcher mounted on a modified Commonly Remotely Operated Weapon Station II (CROWS II). The CROWS II incorporates additional sensors to track enemy drones, allowing the system to “lase” them with a laser for precision targeting. The CROWS II/LAND-LGR4 launcher setup is mounted on a containerized base system known as the “Containerized Weapon System” (CWS).
The CWS, housed in a modified 10-foot ISO shipping container, boasts a hinged roof that facilitates weapon deployment and storage. This design allows personnel to reload, conduct repairs, and interact with the system from within the container, ensuring adequate protection. According to the US Army, two soldiers can set up the CWS in approximately 30 minutes, relying on an external power source and an ethernet-enabled hub for connectivity with off-board sensors and fire control systems.
HDT Global, the manufacturer of the CWS, highlights the system’s versatility, featuring an electric mast that can reach a height of 15 feet in just 30 seconds. Equipped with the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS), the system can support various weaponry, including M2, MK19, M240, M249, M134, and even a Javelin missile, providing 360 degrees of protection. In addition, Invariant Corporation offers a CWS version with a fast-firing 7.62x51mm M134 Minigun Gatling-type machine gun, enhancing the system’s capability for close defense against drones and ground threats.