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An advanced counter drone system is concluding an operational assessment. Drone swarms have posed a challenge to both high-cost weapons systems and small arms, which have limited range and effectiveness against multiple small targets. Drone swarms can conduct surveillance of military bases, destroy infrastructure and even attack warfighters. To counteract this threat and provide additional layers of base defense, the US Air Force Research Lab has created the Tactical High-power Operational Responder (THOR).

This counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon provides a “non-kinetic” defense to fend off multiple targets. Once a target is identified, THOR uses high-power microwaves to cause a counter electronic effect, discharging in an instant with immediate impact. 

Using a focused beam of energy, THOR can disable multiple drones in a large target area at the same time, giving air bases a light-speed, low cost-per-shot solution to fend off enemy drone forces.

The system was designed and built in record time and is currently concluding an operational assessment, the prototype has already been put through a number of challenges.

“Our recent field assessment had an almost 90% effectiveness by operators in the field, who had just been trained on the system,” according to THOR Deputy Program Manager Capt. James Wymer told AFRL News. “THOR is an early demonstrator and we are confident we can approach a 100% kill rate by refining the hardware and improving operator training.”