Leonidas microwave energy weapon can disable swarms of drones at once
Small consumer-grade drones offer some pretty frightening opportunities for terrorists; indeed, while they've been used in some assassination attempts, and explored by ISIL as a way to remotely attack opponents in Syria, it's really quite remarkable that we haven't seen a lot more of it.
It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to grab an off-the-shelf drone, stick an off-the-shelf bomb on it, fly it somewhere and blow it up. The list of potential targets is nearly endless, from big sports games to international airports, and the technology is cheap and easily available.
It's going to get a lot scarier in the future, too, as autonomous swarming gets smarter and easier. Drone defense measures make a lot of sense.
The Epirus Leonidas is a multi-target counter-electronics system that nearly has the perfect name. Its function – repelling hordes of attackers – certainly resonates with King Leonidas of Sparta and his stand with the famous 300 Spartans against the Persians at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae. Unfortunately, Leonidas of Epirus was a different chap altogether - a hard-assed tutor of Alexander the Great, whose main focus seemed to be making sure young Alex didn't get too soft.
Either way, the tech is impressive. The size of a small folding trailer, the Leonidas is a directed energy weapon that uses high-powered solid state microwave energy to disable electronics, firing steerable EMP beams thousands of times per second. With precision digital beamforming capabilities, it can pick one target out of many, or attack an entire area at once in wide beam mode, dropping swarms of drones like so many flies, and creating a "force field" no electronic device can pass through unharmed.
Northrop Grumman is impressed enough that the company has signed Epirus up to a supplier deal, and according to Digital Trends, the US Defense Department is preparing to start rolling them out for operational use, following a prototype demonstration in which the Leonidas successfully took down 66 out of 66 drones.
There's video of the Leonidas being demonstrated, and although it's not the world's most exciting thing to watch a bunch of DJI Phantoms fall out of the sky, I take some comfort in the fact that at least it's not me on the sticks this time!