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USAF directed-energy weapon 'THOR' can down swarms of drones simultaneously

By Cal Jeffrey · 15 replies
Jun 24, 2019
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  1. On Friday, the US Air Force unveiled its newest anti-drone weapon called THOR, which is short for Tactical High Power Microwave Operational Responder. The system was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    THOR only took 18 months to develop for around $15 million — a relatively low cost for a high-tech military application. It can be stored and transported in a shipping container and can be deployed in just a couple of hours. It is meant to be used for base defense.

    The system uses quick bursts of high-powered microwaves to disrupt drone systems such as those used to autopilot or assist the controller. Since the microwave beam projects out much the way a flashlight beam does, THOR can be used to take out a swarm of drones all at once.

    “It operates like a flashlight,” THOR program manager Amber Anderson told Task & Purpose. “It spreads out when the operator hits the button, and anything within that cone will be taken down. It engages in the blink of an eye.”

    Microwaves are not the only directed energy system the Air Force has at its disposal. It also demonstrated a high-power laser that can target a single drone and destroy it with enough thermal energy to melt a hole through it.

    THOR is suitable for relatively short ranges, but according to Air Force Magazine, the USAF is working on another system it calls CHIMERA (Counter-Electronic High-Power Microwave Extended-Range Air Base Air Defense) that is capable of targeting multiple drones at mid to long range. CHIMERA is projected to be finished enough for field testing by fiscal year 2020.

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  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,400   +3,793

    Let's just hope those drones are "theirs" and not "ours" ......
     
  3. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 825   +411

    Russia expressed interest in getting few for their Syria bases.
     
    Andromadus likes this.
  4. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 825   +411

    I doubt if it can do this with 100 drones flying from all directions though.
     
  5. tkabou

    tkabou TS Enthusiast Posts: 35   +44

    "THOR only took 18 months to develop for around $15 million — a relatively low cost for a high-tech military application." We need more of this, simple, cost-effective, not bloated M-I-C hardware that only pads special interests.
     
    TempleOrion and Cal Jeffrey like this.
  6. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,254   +910

    Whatever happened to the Air Force's "Active Denial system" which they intended to unleash on American citizens?
     
  7. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 902   +499

    They are playing very loose with their acronyms. I'm fairly sure a Counter-Electronic High-Power Microwave Extended-Range Air Base Air Defense is a CEHPMERADAD and not a CHIMERA.
     
    TempleOrion and Cal Jeffrey like this.
  8. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,214   +676

    Just wait until they contract it out.

    Joking aside, part of the reason this was so cheap is it is probably just an adaptation of exist microwave technology. We've known for a while which EM/radar frequencies disrupt electronics, and have largely stayed away from them. Now we have a reason to actually use those frequencies.
     
    TempleOrion likes this.
  9. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 876   +372

    100 drones in all directions would take around 2 min for THOR to take care of, it takes less then 10 seconds for it to typically disable a drone and depending on density of the waves it could be droping 5-15 drones per direction.

    and that's a single unit, multiple systems would obviously be very difficult to counter. The only real counter is only achievable by major state players, satellite recon and long distance high altitude recon aircraft with advance radar and optical sensors.
     
  10. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 902   +499

    Useful for airports. As long as they don't point it at a plane.
     
  11. Deevo324

    Deevo324 TS Rookie Posts: 20   +10

    Really? It's a short range weapon and will stay that way as it is subject to the inverse square law. Further, do you think it will be effective against anti-personnel swarm drones? Not a hope.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CO6M2HsoIA&t=
     
  12. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 876   +372

    short range as in 100ft-5 miles that's SHORAD. Those are conventional drones, they can be tracked and unless you get some insanely good shielding in there they will fry just like any other drone. While still around 10 years form being a in production threat by that time the SHORAD lasers will also be fielded, so easy prey for those.
     
  13. HyPeroxya

    HyPeroxya TS Enthusiast Posts: 86   +10

    Yeah but whatever shielding they develop to keep astro/cosmo nauts safe could well be adapted to shield from this. What about adapting organic brains as bio-pilots..
    Now we have a drone race bigger better faster .. might help develop electric flight quicker tho.
    Drones vs Tankers in Hormuz ..
     
  14. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 876   +372

    The levels of radiation off of this would prob still be higher, and again this is the cheap solution for drones of today. Future will be laser and maneuvering bullet protection systems for SHORAD.
     
  15. erickmendes

    erickmendes TS Evangelist Posts: 573   +247

    Man... Can't wait to see CHIMERA 3.0 taking down jets.
     
  16. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,000   +2,295

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