The US Army wants a high-energy microwave system to complete its anti-aircraft defense

For 2 years, the US Army has devoted a significant budget to rebuilding its close anti-aircraft defense capabilities, and in particular to intercept shells, rockets, missiles and drones which could target its forces, through the IFPC program, for Indirects Fires Protection Capability system. Led through the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), this program is evolving rapidly. Thus, where, just a few months ago, the US Army aimed the construction of a transportable 100 Kw laser system identified as the program High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator, or HEL TVD, this step was finally canceled altogether a few weeks ago, to go directly towards a 250 to 300 Kw laser, with greatly increased interception capabilities.

The US Army does not intend to be satisfied with the couple IM-SHORAD and HEL to ensure the protection of its forces. It is developing, in parallel, and still under the aegis of the RCCTO, a microwave weapon program intended to eliminate, above all, swarms of drones. Microwave weapons emit an electro-magnetic pulse in the 300 MHz-300 GHz frequency range, capable of destroying nearby unprotected electronic systems, much like an electro-magnetic pulse weapon. This technology therefore seems suitable for eliminating light electronic systems operating in groups and close to the device, as would be the case with a swarm of drones. On the other hand, the range of systems of this type is relatively short, the electro-magnetic power delivered decreasing with the square of the distance. In addition, the weapon is not discriminating, and all unprotected electronic systems, enemy or ally, present in the area of ​​effect, will be damaged.

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The HEL TVD program will directly target a power of 250 to 300 Kw

However, information about this program is very limited. We thus ignore the power of the device, and therefore its theoretical protea, the source of energy that powers it, its vector and therefore its mobility, nor even its date of entry into service. However, the announced objective is to develop a demonstrator for 2022, i.e. within a timeframe consistent with current laser programs. In addition, as for high energy lasers, the US Army has approached the US Air Force to pool their efforts in the field, the latter ensuring development, the US Army participating in the financing and the construction of prototypes.

Directed energy weapons are, with hypersonic systems, the two priority developments of the RCCTO, which has abandoned or suspended the development of nearly a hundred secondary programs to devote its energy and resources to them. This is a profound change in methods and objectives, revealing the urgency of these developments for the American armies which, obviously, are now engaged in intense operational preparation for a possible conflict with a technological power, able to intervene in relatively short time frames.

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