It's built to negate swarms of drones," said Program Manager Amber Anderson. "We want to drop many of them at one time without a single leaker getting through."
U.S. military bases across the globe may soon have a New Mexico-made, high-powered microwave weapon at their disposal to instantaneously down swarms of enemy drones.
The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, unveiled the weapon Thursday morning in a live demonstration with local reporters, who watched the system effortlessly knock a hovering drone out of the sky with an invisible and inaudible electromagnetic wave.
"The $15 million system, called the Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder, or THOR, disabled the unmanned aerial vehicle in a flash, sending it spiraling to the ground the moment the electromagnetic ray hit it. Had more drones been flying within THOR's expansive scope, they also would have dropped in an instant," Anderson said.
"It operates like a flashlight," she said after the demonstration. "It spreads out when the operator hits the button, and anything within that cone will be taken down. It engages in the blink of an eye."
"The AFRL built the machine on an expedited, 18-month timeline to get it into Warfighters' hands as fast as possible, given the increasing military threat from drones," said Kelly Hammett, head of AFRL's Directed Energy Directorate in Albuquerque, NM. The system is aimed at protecting military bases from multiple-drone attacks, which the Air Force has identified as its No. 1 priority for emerging "directed energy," or microwave and laser, defense systems.