U.S. military bases across the globe may soon have a New Mexico-made, high-powered anti-drone swarm microwave weapon at their disposal.
The Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base unveiled the weapon late last week in a live demonstration in front of local media. Reporters watched the system effortlessly knock a hovering drone out of the sky with an invisible and inaudible electromagnetic wave. As footage of the new weapon shows, THOR can instantaneously down a drone from ranges that conventional weapons can’t even reach.
While the emergence of drone technology has had a wide array of military applications, the most lauded has been the drone swarm. A drone swarm is more than just a bunch of remote control-powered aircraft flying together. What makes a swarm a swarm is the ability for the platforms and/or weapons to autonomously alter their behavior based on communication with one another. This type of attack would make traditional anti-aircraft or surface-to-air missiles completely ineffective—the technological equivalent to swatting at a throng of bees. Fears of the effectiveness of the swarm has already been seen in action. Some analysts are convinced the concept has the potential to fundamentally change the nature of warfare.
Thus a whole new genre of weapon —the anti-drone swarm— was invented.
Several platforms have already been developed. 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 to the military sometime next year.