BAAINBw Orders 40mm Airburst Anti-Drone RCWS

The Bundeswehr’s procurement arm, BAAINBw, has ordered 10 sets of a novel anti-drone system. The system will be mounted on the GTK Boxers of Germany’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (NATO VJTF) contributions to fulfill urgent anti-drone operational requirements.

As ordered, the anti-drone system consists of a H&K GMG 40mm automatic grenade launcher on a Protector RCWS mount by Kongsberg. This is paired with a Spexer radar from Hensoldt and a custom fire control system that pairs tracking data from the Hensoldt radar and the Protector’s onboard camera, thermal imager, and laser rangefinder. The system is set to fire airburst ammunition, likely that developed by Rheinmetall.

The use of a 40mm AGS in such a role is somewhat novel. A similar anti-drone system is fielded by the US Marine Corps, but the Marine Corps system utilizes a 7.62mm M134 electric minigun to shoot down drones. While 40mm can be airbursted for kinetic effects on near-misses, the significantly lower velocity and heavier weight of the 40mm projectiles means that a precise fire control system is far more important for a 40mm anti-drone RCWS, as more lead and drop needs to be compensated for.

Deliveries of the system are expected to begin 24 months from the order being placed, so Germany’s VJTF should receive these systems by 2022. The contract is worth 24.5 million Euros, so it can be inferred that each system cost more than 2 million Euros each. While this may seem expensive, the system involves a variety of small, complex sensors which are costly to produce.

The cost is also likely to fall if the system is selected to be procured in serial. However, advances in anti-drone technology are rapidly advancing, so perhaps BAAINBw is only procuring the minimum amount required to equip VJTF to avoid overinvesting in a technology that may become obsolete in the near future.