WASHINGTON DC – In recent years, small drones have made their way onto battlefields where they’ve been used to surveil US forces or drop bombs on them, prompting the US military to develop new ways to take them down. This week, the US Air Force unveiled a new tool that can be stationed at bases around the world: a high-powered microwave system called Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR), which is designed to protect bases against swarms of drones.
The Air Force Research Laboratory at the Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, developed the system, which uses short bursts of high-powered microwaves to disable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). According to local TV station KRQE, the system was developed quickly (18 months) for about $15 million. It runs off of a generator and is stored in a shipping container, meaning it can be transported almost anywhere and set up within a couple of hours.
The Air Force began testing THOR against short-range targets earlier this spring, while another system, the Counter-Electronic High-Power Microwave Extended-Range Air Base Air Defense (CHIMERA) is designed to hit things at medium to long ranges. That system is expected to be delivered sometime next year.
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