US Air Force THOR microwave cannon knocked out drone swarm in tests in April 2023

In April 2023, the US Air Force Research Lab demonstrated the effectiveness of its THOR microwave gun by taking out a swarm of drones during tests conducted in New Mexico.

From the 2018 attack on Russia's Khmeimem airbase in Syria by a swarm of 13 armed drones of ammunition and launched from a small village 70 km from it, the risk posed by swarms of drones has become one of the priorities of the US Air Force, which must ensure the protection of many bases exposed to this type of attack in the world.

Too small to be accounted for by traditional anti-aircraft systems, too fast to be destroyed by small arms, and too numerous for directed-energy systems like high-energy lasers, drone swarms had to find a dedicated answer.

That's how born the Tactical High-Power Operational Responder system or THOR program, a microwave gun developed by the US Air Force Research Lab.

First tested at the White Sands site in New Mexico in 2018, the THOR relies on a directional microwave gun, a targeting system and autonomous power system integrated into a 20-foot container, allowing it to be transported by C-130 aircraft and deployed autonomously to all USAF air bases.

Like a high-energy laser, it projects an energetic beam towards its targets. But unlike the latter which relies on the thermal effect of a laser beam of reduced surface area to destroy targets, the microwave gun destroys the on-board electronic systems of all systems affected by a much less directional beam, thus making it possible to simultaneously destroy a large number of drones in the targeted portion of the sky.

the THOR Directional Microwave Cannon was designed to eliminate drone swarms
Drone swarms pose a threat that is difficult to counter with conventional anti-aircraft systems

It is precisely this scenario, and in particular the destruction of a swarm of drones, which has been tested in early April by the Air Force Research Lab, at the Chestnut Test Site at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.


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4 Comments

  1. […] Since the 2018 attack on the Russian Khmeimem air base in Syria by a swarm of 13 drones armed with ammunition and launched from a small village 70 km from it, the risk posed by swarms drones has become one of the priorities of the US Air Force, which must ensure the protection of many bases exposed to this type of attack in the world. […]

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