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Microwave weapons

AN/AWW-14(V)

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Raytheon Co. Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona, has been awarded a $16,289,702 agreement for one prototype Phaser high power microwave system. This agreement provides for outside continental U.S. (OCONUS) field assessment for purposes of experimentation. Experimentation includes, but is not limited to 12 months of in-field operation by Air Force personnel against unmanned aerial systems threats.

 

AN/AWW-14(V)

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The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), showcased its $15 million high-power microwave weapon that can instantaneously kill swarms of enemy drones within minutes. The New Mexico-made weapon, nick-named THOR (Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder), was demonstrated live at the Kirkland US Air Force Base where it destroyed a drone with invisible and inaudible electromagnetic waves.

According to Kelly Hammett, the Head of AFRL's Directed Energy Directorate in Albuquerque, with a rise in constant military threats from enemy drones, the AFRL worked on the system with an expedited 18-month timeline so as to ensure that the system was provided to US warfighters as soon as possible and help them protect military bases from multiple-drone attacks.
AFRL has been developing microwave and laser defense technology for years, including collaboration with Raytheon, which built its own anti-drone microwave system in recent years. The trials, however, showed some limitations when integrating Raytheon's system with other military technologies and battlefield tactics and protocols. Raytheon has since invested more resources to further develop its system, which could still be deployed in the future by the military. But AFRL chose to also build THOR to offer different operating capabilities and more options for the military to rapidly meet urgent defense needs, according to Hammett.

The THOR system is designed for rapid deployment wherever needed, with the microwave antennae and foundation stored in a shipping container transported on a flatbed truck. The equipment is stored in parts for easy, snap-together assembly in just three hours. It takes only two people to set it up and three to tear it down, according to AFRL. The antennas are controlled by a handheld remote in all directions as needed, providing 360-degree defense against drones. The firing mechanism and overall system control are operated from a laptop.

AFRL spent nearly $15 million to develop the weapon system but expects it to cost around $10 million once the U.S. DoD adopts it for deployment. The weapon was built in co-operation with BAE Systems, Leidos and Verus Research.

 
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edwest

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So, the science-fiction is being deployed. High Energy Weapons.
 

sferrin

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I'd like to see it try to take out an actual maneuvering swarm rather than one hovering drone.
 

Forest Green

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I'd like to see it try to take out an actual maneuvering swarm rather than one hovering drone.
Fair point. Focusing the energy on one drone and being successful doesn't mean you can take out a swarm quickly enough. Also depends on effective range. I would personally come down in favour of a 40mm autocannon on this one. The ammo probably costs less than a drone, so it's still a frugal exchange rate.
 

sferrin

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I'd like to see it try to take out an actual maneuvering swarm rather than one hovering drone.
Fair point. Focusing the energy on one drone and being successful doesn't mean you can take out a swarm quickly enough. Also depends on effective range. I would personally come down in favour of a 40mm autocannon on this one. The ammo probably costs less than a drone, so it's still a frugal exchange rate.
40 mm cannon wouldn't have a hope in hell of coping.
 

Forest Green

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40 mm cannon wouldn't have a hope in hell of coping.
With air-bursting rounds? I'm sure it would, you might even get several drones with one round depending on how close they are.

For a microwave weapon, really you want a phased array antenna so that you can switch targets rapidly.
 

sferrin

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40 mm cannon wouldn't have a hope in hell of coping.
With air-bursting rounds? I'm sure it would, you might even get several drones with one round depending on how close they are.
Good luck trying to deal with things like these:


A gun mount is going to have a hell of a time even training on one of these things, let alone trying to anticipate where it will be when the shell arrives. Now try that 50 or a hundred times in the time it take the swarm to cross the guns envelope and take it out.

For a microwave weapon, really you want a phased array antenna so that you can switch targets rapidly.
Yep. And lasers that don't rely on giant turrets.
 

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With air-bursting rounds? I'm sure it would, you might even get several drones with one round depending on how close they are.

Good luck trying to deal with things like these:


A gun mount is going to have a hell of a time even training on one of these things, let alone trying to anticipate where it will be when the shell arrives. Now try that 50 or a hundred times in the time it take the swarm to cross the guns envelope and take it out.


Yep. And lasers that don't rely on giant turrets.
I guess it depends on the number of drones but I don't see the microwave weapon featured above fairing much better. With a PA it would be a different story.

I read that they have created phased array lasers somewhere, but I don't know what state of development they're in right now.
 

sferrin

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This would suggest that the problem (rapidly training a laser, at least through a sector) is a known technology. (Watch to the end.)

 

Forest Green

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Found this:


 

Forest Green

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This would suggest that the problem (rapidly training a laser, at least through a sector) is a known technology. (Watch to the end.)

Now all you need to do is scale it up to 100MW and you have a missile point defence system.
 
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