Military

Microwave/laser weapon takes out multiple drone swarms

Microwave/laser weapon takes o...
The vehicle-mounted laser combines a solid state laser with an advanced variant of the company’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System,  installed on a small, all-terrain Polaris militarized vehicle
The vehicle-mounted laser combines a solid state laser with an advanced variant of the company’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System,  installed on a small, all-terrain Polaris militarized vehicle
View 2 Images
The vehicle-mounted laser combines a solid state laser with an advanced variant of the company’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System,  installed on a small, all-terrain Polaris militarized vehicle
1/2
The vehicle-mounted laser combines a solid state laser with an advanced variant of the company’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System,  installed on a small, all-terrain Polaris militarized vehicle
The directed energy system emits an adjustable energy beam that, when aimed at airborne targets such as drones, renders them unable to fly
2/2
The directed energy system emits an adjustable energy beam that, when aimed at airborne targets such as drones, renders them unable to fly

An energy weapon system built by Raytheon has clocked up an impressive score by taking out 45 drones during a recent US Army exercise. Part of this year's Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX) at the Army's Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the test involved a directed energy weapon that combines Raytheon's high-power microwave beam and High Energy Laser (HEL) systems.

Drones, UAVs, and even something as low-tech as mortars are a major battlefield hazard. With new technology producing increasingly sophisticated and expensive platforms, the danger is also emerging that these expensive assets could be overwhelmed by new advanced, but cheap, autonomous flying machines that swarm into battle and swamp defenses.

A promising way to combat this is by using directed energy weapons. These fire beams that travel at the speed of light, can flick from target to target in a fraction of a second, can be adapted to suit the target, and cost about a dollar a shot as opposed to thousands or even millions of dollars for more conventional rounds.

The directed energy system emits an adjustable energy beam that, when aimed at airborne targets such as drones, renders them unable to fly
The directed energy system emits an adjustable energy beam that, when aimed at airborne targets such as drones, renders them unable to fly

At MFIX, Raytheon's approach was to combine a directed microwave beam operating from a fixed location with the HEL system installed on an Army dune buggy. The microwave weapon was designed to disrupt or destroy the target's electronics while the laser directly destroyed the targets it engaged. The goal was to produce a system that can engage incoming hostile targets at medium range.

According to Raytheon, the microwave developed under a US$2 million US Air Force Research Laboratory contract was able to take on multiple UAV swarms, knocking out 33 drones in batches of two or three at a time. Meanwhile, the HEL system identified, tracked, and engaged Class I (up to 20 lb) and II (up to 55 lb) UAVs, destroying 12 of them in the air. In addition, the laser destroyed six stationary mortar rounds.

"The speed and low cost per engagement of directed energy is revolutionary in protecting our troops against drones," says Dr Thomas Bussing, Raytheon Advanced Missile Systems vice president. "We have spent decades perfecting the high-power microwave system, which may soon give our military a significant advantage against this proliferating threat."

Source: Raytheon

5 comments
WilliamSager
The secret to all laser systems will be a power source. It's time we make this a priority in every new ship and combat vehicle purchased.
Bob
Took out six stationary mortar rounds. WOW!!! Now what about the incoming ones?
Brian M
Now we are going to see drones with highly reflective mirrors!
Douglas Bennett Rogers
A while back, I had an idea for an optical warhead for SDI. A chemical explosion would drive a laser. A truck mounted weapon could use a truck deliverable reactor, such as Babcock and Wilcox M-Power. A well aimed small caliber machine gun would take out most drones.
chris gandee
instead of using those extremely energy intensive waves using sound waves at ultrasonic would destroy any computer equipment they passed through if modulated to silicon or the material used to make processors, which are pretty limited or even directed emp. only analog rockets would be immune as no guidance or payload detonation circuitry are needed and even they could possibly have their payloads forced into detonation by the sound being a pseudo-object that it has collided with. imagine the sound wall that is felt when at bass competitions and the air pushed out by subs in a wave box. which btw is unexplained by current physics. they dont suck air in anywhere but push massive amounts out.