ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As drones become more and more common, the U.S. military is considering ways to defend against drone attacks. One method they’re testing is using microwaves to take down so-called drone ‘swarms.’
In April, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) tested a weapon called the Tactical High-power Operational Responder (THOR) at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The ground-based defense system proved effective against swarming drones, AFRL says.
“The THOR team flew numerous drones at the THOR system to simulate a real-world swarm attack,” Adrian Lucero, THOR program manager at AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate, said in a press release. “THOR has never been tested against these types of drones before, but this did not stop the system from dropping the targets out of the sky with its non-kinetic, speed-of-light High-Power Microwave, or HPM pulses.”
The weapon tracks targets and shoots a wide microwave beam to disable drones. It’s just one example of technology that might be used in combat in the near future.
“THOR was extremely efficient with a near continuous firing of the system during the swarm engagement,” said Capt. Tylar Hanson, THOR deputy program manager. “It is an early demonstrator, and we are confident we can take this same technology and make it more effective to protect our personnel around the world.”
The technology has been in development for several years and cost about $18 million, according to AFRL. When fired, the weapon is silent and can disable technology (like drones) instantly.