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UK delivers Terrahawk Paladin air defense system to Ukraine

On October 11, 2023, the UK Defense Secretary announced a new military assistance package for Ukraine, valued at over £100 million. This package includes the delivery of the MSI-DS Terrahawk Paladin Very Short-Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) system. This marks the first instance of Ukraine receiving the Paladin system to enhance its air defense capabilities, particularly in countering the threat posed by Russian drones. The package, as described in this article, aims to support Ukraine's counter-offensive efforts, focusing on minefield clearance, vehicle maintenance, and fortifying defensive infrastructure.
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The Paladin includes a NATO-standard Demountable Rack Offload and Pickup System (D.R.O.P.S.) module (Picture source: MSI-Defence)

The financial support for this package comes from the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU), established by the UK and Denmark in 2022, and includes seven participating nations: the UK, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and Lithuania.

In September 2022, MSI-Defence Systems, a UK-based defense company, introduced the MSI-DS Terrahawk Paladin, a Very Short-Range Air Defense (VSHORAD) system designed to safeguard critical infrastructure and high-value targets against Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and various incoming threats from the air, ground, and maritime domains. The system was updated in September 2023, further enhancing its capabilities, potentially making it a valuable addition to Ukraine's air and coastal defense arsenal.

The Terrahawk Paladin has been noted for its performance in countering drone threats in land-based Counter-UAS (C-UAS) operations. It has the capability to engage a wide range of UAS threats, from small nano and micro-UAVs to larger tactical combat UAVs. The integrated Fire Control System, equipped with AI-enhanced target tracking and ballistic compensation, is designed to neutralize aerial threats effectively.

Fundamentally, the Terrahawk Paladin is designed for close-range air defense, with a focus on mobility, modularity, and remote control capabilities. Its design allows for rapid repositioning of radar, sensors, and effectors, enabling swift deployment where needed, with minimal delay.

The United Kingdom has committed to providing Ukraine with the MSI-DS Terrahawk Paladin V-SHORAD, apparently equipped with a 30 mm Mk44 Bushmaster II chain gun. The 30 mm Mk44 Bushmaster II is a well-established choice, shared with various military vehicles, including the Stryker Dragoon, the Boxer Vilkas, the Rosomak APCs, and the AS21 Redback, and the Leopard IFVs.

Furthermore, the system offers a broad range of effectors and ammunition options, including programmable Air Burst munitions, proximity-fused rounds, and various remote-controlled weapon systems from the MSI-Defence catalog. These options include the Terrahawk DS, available in 25mm (480 rounds), 30mm, and 40mm variants, and the Terrahawk FZ, which is a missile version. The Terrahawk LW provides cannon options in 14.5mm HMG (ammunition capacity: 400 rounds), 25mm (ammunition capacity: 200 rounds), and 30mm (ammunition capacity: 240 rounds). Finally, the Terrahawk RWS offers cannon options in 7.62mm (ammunition capacity: 400 rounds) or 12.7mm (ammunition capacity: 150 rounds).

The Terrahawk Paladin relies on a suite of advanced components for mission execution. The MSI-DS SATOS (Surveillance Acquisition Targeting Optical System) plays a crucial role and is equipped with a thermal imager, daylight TV with low flight capability, and a 10km laser range finder for precise detection and tracking of incoming threats.

The integrated Fire Control System offers AI-enhanced target tracking and ballistic compensation. It is also network-enabled, providing options for enhanced target recognition intelligence. The Terrahawk Paladin systems incorporate offset remote control options for operator survivability, whether through hard-wired connections or line-of-sight communication, along with established effectors, sensing, and detection capabilities.

One notable feature of the Terrahawk Paladin is its versatile deployment options. It can function as a standalone unit for point defense or seamlessly integrate into a broader network under a Combat Management System. This adaptability allows for comprehensive area defense capabilities, making it a useful asset for coastal and border protection.

To facilitate transport and deployment, the system is designed to be mounted on various platforms, including vehicles, trailers, and on the ground, using NATO-standard flat racks and hook lifts. This design also includes a NATO-standard Demountable Rack Offload and Pickup System (D.R.O.P.S.) module, which the British Army employs on various logistics vehicles, such as the Leyland DAF medium mobility load carrier (MMLC) and the Foden improved medium mobility load carrier (IMMLC). The system can also be mounted on other carriers, like the German RMMV HX-38.540 8x8 truck, designed to autonomously load and offload 15-tonne flat racks or containers configured to ISO 20 feet standard.

In addition to its mobility and deployment capabilities, the Terrahawk Paladin incorporates an onboard power generator for self-sufficiency in the field, reducing dependence on external power sources. The Terrahawk Paladin has a typical mass of less than 10 tons, making it a relatively lightweight yet powerful defense system. When stowed for transit, it has dimensions of 6 m in length, 2.44 m in width, and a height of 2.5 m. In the deployed configuration, it extends to 6.7 m in length, 3.6 m in width, and 4 m in height.

Terrahawk Paladin 925 002

The Terrahawk Paladin can function as a standalone unit for point defense (Picture source: MSI-Defence)


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