Antidrone lasers and microwave weapons will be a several billion dollar market over the next five years.
Above – This is the Raytheon laser dune buggy, a solid-state laser combined with an advanced variant of the company’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System of sensors, installed on a small, all-terrain Polaris militarized vehicle. Coupled with a generator, the HEL weapon system provides military members with counter-UAV capabilities and a virtually unlimited magazine. (U.S. Army photo)
The mini-drone threat is a high priority for the Pentagon, along with anti-aircraft defenses in general. Daesh has used commercial drones to drop hand grenades. Hezbollah has used similar setups to strike Daesh. The Iraqi police and military have used commercial drones for similar purposes. And the Russians have used drones large and small to target Ukrainian troops for devastating artillery strikes.
It’s getting so anyone can buy a drone for $1,000 or less, fiddle with it a bit and turn it into a reconnaissance and strike platform. It can’t drop 1,000 pound bombs but it can track you, kill a few people and keep on going. A swarm of such drones was recently used to attack Russia’s largest base in Syria.
Forty-five unmanned aerial vehicles and drones were shot down in tests by Raytheon’s advanced high-power microwave and laser dune buggy in a U.S. Army exercise. The exercise was known as Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment, or MFIX, and was held at the U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Military and industry leaders gathered at MFIX to demonstrate ways to bridge the Army’s capability gaps in long-range fires and maneuver short-range air defense. Highlights included:
Raytheon’s high-power microwave system engaged multiple UAV swarms, downing 33 drones, two and three at a time.
Raytheon’s high energy laser, or HEL, system identified, tracked, engaged and downed 12 airborne, maneuvering Class I and II UAVs, and destroyed six stationary mortar projectiles.
The directed energy system emits an adjustable energy beam that, when aimed at airborne targets such as drones, renders them unable to fly. (U.S. Army photo)
“The speed and low cost per engagement of directed energy is revolutionary in protecting our troops against drones,” said 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.”
Raytheon and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory worked together under a $2 million contract to test and demonstrate high-power microwave, counter-UAV technologies.
“Our customer needed a solution, and they needed it fast,” said Dr. Ben Allison, director of Raytheon’s HEL product line. “So, we took what we’ve learned and combined it with combat-proven components to rapidly deliver a small, self-contained and easily deployed counter-UAV system.”