The US military has invested in a prototype energy beam weapon designed to zap drones in the sky.
This week, the US Air Force said the prototype, dubbed the Tactical High Power Operational Responder (THOR), is a “directed energy” weapon that could use both lasers and microwaves to take out unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drone swarms.
THOR, perhaps named in deference to the Norse god of thunder, is being developed to fire at multiple targets at the same time with what the military calls “rapid results.”
The weapon needs to be housed in a shipping container that is 20-foot-long, but this means it can also be transported, moved via cargo plane, and could be installed at different military bases. THOR has been developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate, located at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. According to the Associated Press, $15 million has been spent designing the weapon together with Verus Research, BAE Systems, and Leidos.
On February 11, Army Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood watched a demonstration of THOR’s capabilities at the airbase. The army official said that a combination of high-energy lasers and microwave technologies are being developed by the arm and research lab, in the hopes of being able to take on both individual targets and swarms effectively. [full article]