EOS conducts live fire showcase for counter-UAV Slinger

Published in Defence Connect | 28 August 2023

Written by: Robert Dougherty

Canberra-based defence company Electro Optic Systems is setting up for an anticipated export-agreement blitz as it hosts several counter-unmanned aerial vehicle live fire demonstrations in western NSW.

Defence Connect, members of the media, and university staff attended a kinetic and directed energy counter-drone live fire demonstration at Klondyke Range Complex on 25 August.

It’s understood the event is a precursor before government officials, VIPs, and international observers are pitched the system at similar trials in the following weeks.

The company displayed it’s counter-UAV kinetic Slinger system mounted with a 7.62mm machine gun and 30mm cannon on the back of an American GMC Denali pickup truck.

The system was able to track and achieve a kill against a flying drone at a distance of 450 metres using a standard 7.62mm Mag58 machine gun (on loan from the Australian Army) and standard ammunition (four-ball, one-tracer).

The stabilised 30mm cannon, capable of single-shot, 100 or 200 round-per-minute modes using thermal and night vision, achieved effective fire on ground targets including mock vehicles and a mock helicopter.

Matt Jones, EOS executive vice president defence systems, who attended the demonstration, said the company is hoping to build on interest for the Slinger internationally.

“We’ve just completed a two-week demonstration of this (Slinger 30mm) system in the United States at Redstone Arsenal where we equipped an M113 (armoured personnel carrier) and carried out static and moving engagements against targets at 2,000 metres,” he said.

“Ukrainian officials said that they don’t have anything like it at the moment and were very impressed with the performance system.

“The purpose of the trial in the US in the last two weeks was to prove the performance of the system and to prove to their capability officials the technical readiness of the solution. The trial went very well, the reports currently been drafted by the officials and will be submitted to the Ukraine government for a decision in the next few weeks.

In addition to the Slinger demonstration, EOS announced in April that it has obtained two conditional contracts to provide Ukraine with its longstanding weapon systems.

“We have already signed two contracts for Ukraine for 110 systems to be equipped onto M113s, the purpose of the trial was to prove that capability; and a further 50 systems with a company called Practika, which would be the systems integrated onto a Bushmaster-like 4x4. They’re in the order of $170 million, a significant export contract.

“It’s a configuration that’s been sold into the Middle East, into Europe with the Dutch had been operated up above the snowline in the Arctic. It’s been operated in in the middle of the desert with the UAE so we’re very happy with the performance both at very high temperatures and at very, very low temperatures.

“It’s one of the reasons why it’s being picked up for employment in Ukraine because of its maturity and ability to work across that full temperature range, in particular into the freezing cold as it been demonstrated to Ukrainian officials.”

The Slinger system was launched at the Canberra manufacturing facility by Assistance Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite earlier this year.

Jones said proximity ammunition, not currently available in Australia and not imported into the country, would have improved characteristics for accuracy and lethality against flying drones at range.

“There is specialised ammunition available for the Slinger system, that ammunition is from Northrop Grumman and is currently not approved for use in Australia or on Australian ranges,” he said.

“That proximity ammunition, the only reason it’s not currently available is because it’s not currently used by the Australian Defence Force.

“The cannon used on the Slinger is the same used by Boeing’s Apache attack helicopter (which Australia is acquiring) … I expect proximity ammunition will be available over the next couple of years.”

A secondary test at the event showcased the companies’ Titanis water-cooled, 34-kilowatt (latent energy) laser directed energy system against steel plating and UAVs.

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