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US Military Needs Cheaper Ways to Neutralize Drones: Pentagon Official

The US military is being urged to find cheaper solutions to neutralizing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as the costs of firing counter-drone weapons and munitions are “too high.”

US Department of Defense undersecretary for acquisition William LaPlante said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference that efforts to take out hostile UAVs exceed $100,000 per shot.

In the Middle East alone, the US military has been firing expensive missile systems to take down drones launched by Houthi rebels against ships crossing the Red Sea.

There have reportedly been over 130 drones downed, attributed to American missiles and anti-drone weapons in the waterway since December 2023.

LaPlante suggested that the US military should look for counter-drone alternatives that only cost tens of thousands of dollars per shot.

He said existing weapons make this goal possible, though he did not name specific models or manufacturers.

Current Efforts

In February 2024, the US Army ordered 600 Coyote drone interceptors from Raytheon to aid the country’s counter-drone operations.

The rocket motor and turbine engine-powered system is reportedly reusable, saving the service some money when neutralizing UAVs.

Additionally, the country announced earlier this month that its forces in the Middle East will soon receive laser-guided counter-drone systems amid the proliferation of drone threats.

The US military has also reportedly deployed 50-kilowatt laser weapons to the region to test their real-world applicability.

Apart from vessels transiting the Red Sea, American forces in Syria and Jordan have also been targets of drone attacks, including in January when three US soldiers died following a drone strike on a military base near the Syria border.

Stryker combat vehicle firing DEIMOS laser weapon system
Stryker combat vehicle firing DEIMOS laser weapon system. Photo: Lockheed Martin

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