As the enemies of America bring innovative modifications to various pieces of technology they collect from the market place, our military needs to respond in a practical way that is not only strategically-effective, but cost-effective. As remote controlled drones become more and more available throughout the world, various rebel factions and terrorist organizations have begun to modify them to carry devastating munitions.
Due to inexpensive accessibility to these new pieces of technology, adversaries of the United States military are capable of launching multiple drones, possibly hundreds, at once. Utilizing traditional air defense systems to combat these “swarms” of drones can be extremely expensive. Enter Raytheon, one of the go-to defense contractors the United States has enlisted in order to tackle a multitude of technological defense strategies.
Raytheon has tweaked some old technology that many of us use in our homes on a daily basis, microwave. By employing a high-powered microwave, Raytheon is able to discharge amped-up radio frequencies through a wide angle beam which destroys the circuitry of anything in its path.
Former U.S. Air Force Captain Susan Kelly manages high-powered microwave systems at Raytheon and believes this technology is “a perfect application” when combating swarms of drones.
“With high-powered microwave, anything that in our field of regard is going to come down. You can shoot down as many UAVs as can be physically possible in that field.”
High-powered microwaves, much like high-powered laser systems, require electricity in order to operate. Also very similar to high-powered laser systems, once connected to a power source the ammunition is considered limitless as one single generator could fire the system more than one-million times.
During development in 2013, Raytheon tested this technology at Fort Sill in that they brought down two UAVs. A more in depth demonstration is scheduled for the entire Department of Defense in 2017. This next demonstration is set to feature a high-powered microwave downing up to 60 drones, including multiple targets at once.
High-powered microwave systems do come with a caveat in that they are unable to differentiate a friendly UAV from an enemy UAV. If a drone/UAV is in a high-powered microwave system’s field of regard, its coming down regardless of who commissioned it. A high-powered microwave system will fry the circuits of a friendly UAV just as effectively as an enemy UAV, so precise coordination with surrounding units is key in perfecting the operation of this system.