Truck-Mounted Cannon Can Shoot Drones Out of the Sky

RAPIDFire Truck-Mounted Weapon
Thales' RAPIDFire weapon is designed to attack aerial and ground vehicles. The truck-mounted gun can shoot down combat drones, helicopters and missiles, according to company officials. (Image credit: Thales)

A new weapon designed to defend against combat drones looks like it's straight out of the video game "Halo."

The French multinational company Thales is building a huge truck-mounted gun that can autonomously shoot down drones, helicopters and missiles, according to the company's description of the weapon.

Known as RAPIDFire, the 40-mm gun, mounted on a turret on wheels, can be fired "for self-defense purposes" while the vehicle is moving, the description states. The lethal weapon can fire up to 200 rounds per minute, and can target drones and other airborne vehicles as far away as 13,100 feet (4,000 meters), and infantry combat vehicles at a range of up to 8,200 feet (2,500 m). [See video of the RAPIDFire gun system]

The weapon also has a speedy reaction time — it takes only 4.5 seconds from the time it detects a target to being ready to fire. The gun has light sensors and surveillance radar, and can operate in a fully autonomous mode. Human control is "needed only for weapon assignment and firing orders," according to Thales.

The gun's ammunition can penetrate 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) of vehicle armor from 4,900 feet (1,500 m) away. The gun can fire tungsten pellets at targets in the air, but for targets on land, the ammo is programmed to explode while in flight and eject fragments sideways.

The truck-mounted weapon is equipped with infrared and laser range finders that can be used day or night. The system is also immune to most known signal-jamming technologies, thus protecting it from interference and enemy attacks, according to Thales.

For safety, the weapon system includes visual recognition of targets, "thus reducing the risk of fratricide firings" (friendly fire), the company's description says.

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Tanya Lewis
Staff Writer
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.