The U.S. Army is investing in a directed energy prototype technology developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, according to an Air Force press release.

The Tactical High Power Operational Responder, or THOR, system, disables the electronics in drones and is engineered to counter multiple targets (i.e. a drone swarm).

Army Lt. Gen. L. Neil Thurgood, the director for Hypersonics, Directed Energy Space and Rapid Acquisition, who oversees the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office recently visited Kirtland AFB to see the technology in action.

“The Army’s directed energy capabilities will need to provide a layered defense with multiple ways to defeat incoming threats,” said Thurgood. “Our partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory gave the Army a running start on the high power microwave mission, and we look forward to continuing to advance these capabilities to protect our warfighters.”

According to THOR program manager Amber Anderson, the system works by using powerful radio wave bursts, offering greater engagement range than bullets or nets. Furthermore she said the effects are “silent and instantaneous.”

The Army plans on partnering with the Air Force on THOR to provide an Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Power Microwave system to a platoon by fiscal year 2024.

Photo by John Cochran

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