With a microwave against the drones

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The U.S. military is in full swing to develop a weapon that can handle up to an army of dangerous drones at once. Thanks to technological advances, drones have shifted from military specialties to everyday tools in recent years, whether for business use or even hobby-like flying. At the same time, however, structures without a smaller or larger pilot have emerged as a new kind of threat that must be addressed with modern defense systems. The U.S. military is, of course, aware of the above, and accordingly, several solutions are being tested in parallel. In addition to the use of conventional firearms, net throwing, for example, has emerged as a possible option, but the potential of high-energy laser beams is also being explored.

Now in February, another alternative was tested that would disable threatening drones by emitting microwaves. The system, developed by Air Force specialists, was named THOR. The acronym compiled from the English term Tactical High Power Operational Responder is an obvious reference to one of the most important gods of northern mythology, the lord of lightning and thunder. However, one of the promising qualities of modern namesakes is that he does his job in absolute silence, yet his efficiency really equates to that when lightning strikes a drone.

One of the most important features of THOR is that, unlike other solutions that focus on direct targeting and destruction, it can eliminate an entire swarm of attacking drones at once by rendering their electronic system unusable with its emitted microwaves. The weapon system fits in a 6-meter-long conventional container, making it easy and (in the case of flying) transportable to the deployment area. And only two people are enough to assemble it. A demonstration was already held in front of senior Army leaders in February, but that doesn’t mean the defense solution will be up and running soon. This will require further development, refinement and testing.

According to current plans, in addition to the continuous development of THOR, the military would also like to receive a smaller microwave solution. The version, which can be delivered by very small military units, is planned to be completed in about three years. Among the fixed-installation solutions for the protection of military facilities, for example, a system “working” with a 300-kilowatt laser beam is being developed, but this project is unlikely to be completed until 2026.

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