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The widespread commercial availability of cheap and capable drones means that they are available to unconventional adversaries as much as near-peer competitors. And because drone evolution is increasingly driven by the fast-paced and fast evolving commercial market, it can be hard for counter-measures to keep pace with commercial tech or security innovations. Microwave weapons could be the answer to the rapidly evolving drone threat. A microwave is as close as electronic warfare comes to brute force, frying electronics rather than bypassing them. It’s a payload that, if proven successful in the field, could keep pace with the threat for years to come.
According to breakingdefense.com, Lockheed Martin is offering MORFIUS, a drone armed with a High-Powered Microwave (HPM) to zap UAV swarms out of the sky. MORFIUS is a reusable drone that can fit inside a six-inch diameter launch tube and weighs less than 30 pounds, light and versatile enough to attach to ground stations, ground vehicles, or aircraft. The company is focused on how to address the counter-UAS swarm threat, said Brain Dunn, of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. Working as part of a layered approach to counter-drone defense, MORFIUS units will be launched at hostile drones, or drone swarms, and then disable them in close proximity, with potentially a gigawatt of microwave power — or, as Lockheed put it, a million times the power of a standard 1,000-watt microwave oven.
MORFIUS can fly close to its targets and blast them with microwaves at close range – unlike ground-based systems, whose microwave emissions lose energy as they cross longer distances. Crucial to the promise of MORFIUS is its ability to zap many drones at once in mid-air, far from the friendly vehicles, buildings, or people actively being defended. “You have to engage the target before it gets to its ordnance release line, if it’s a kinetic effect, or if it’s an electronic attack, or defeat it before it can employ its ISR capabilities,” said Dunn.
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