US Army Partners with US Air Force Research Laboratory THOR for Base Defense
US Army Partners with US Air Force Research Laboratory THOR for Base Defense

US Army Partners with US Air Force Research Laboratory THOR for Base Defense


In an effort to counter the increasing threat posed by enemy drones and other airborne threats, the U.S. Army is making an investment in directed energy prototype technology, with the Tactical High Power Operational Responder, or THOR, system, developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, playing a key role. Drones represent an emerging threat to U.S. military bases, personnel and infrastructure.

The Air Force Research Laboratory has created a new video animation that realistically depicts THOR (Tactical High-power Operational Responder) destroying swarms of enemy drones in a base defense scenario. In an effort to counter the increasing threat posed by enemy drones and other airborne threats, the Air Force developed THOR. Prior to THOR’s deployment overseas, the prototype is undergoing a series of risk reduction and system characterization efforts at Kirtland AFB,

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“The system output is powerful radio wave bursts, which offer a greater engagement range than bullets or nets, and its effects are silent and instantaneous. Drones represent an emerging threat to U.S. military bases, personnel and infrastructure, and it is THOR’s mission to keep them safe, at close range and from a distance” said THOR program manager Amber Anderson.

US Army Partners with US Air Force Research Laboratory THOR for Base Defense
Leaders from the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office enter the portable control center of Air Force Research Laboratory’s Tactical High Power Operational Responder, or THOR, to view the system’s drone-killing capabilities, Feb. 11, 2021 at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. THOR is a prototype directed energy weapon used to disable the electronics in drones, and specifically engineered to counter multiple targets – such as a drone swarm – with rapid results. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Cochran)

THOR is a prototype Directed Energy (DE) weapon used to disable the electronics in drones, and was specifically engineered to counter multiple targets – such as a drone swarm – with rapid results.
High energy lasers kill one target at a time, and high powered microwaves can kill groups or swarms, which is one reason that THOR offers a unique capability. THOR is housed in a 20-foot shipping unit, can be transported in a military cargo plane, and assembled by just two people.

THOR, and other DE systems, provide non-kinetic defeat of multiple targets at once. The AFRL THOR program took on the challenge to design, build and test an effective counter-UAS system that could engage many targets at once, and at long distances. High power microwaves are one solution to this challenge. The system output is powerful radio wave bursts, which offer a greater engagement range than bullets or nets, and its effects are silent and instantaneous.

During and after THOR deployment, the RCCTO will continue to partner with the Air Force on the THOR program in support of the U.S. Army’s effort to provide a prototype Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High Power Microwave system to a platoon by fiscal year 2024. Additionally, the Army will deliver a prototype IFPC-High Energy Laser capability in FY24 that uses a 300 kilowatt-class laser for fixed site defense.

US Army Partners with US Air Force Research Laboratory THOR for Base Defense
In an effort to counter the increasing threat posed by enemy drones and other airborne threats, the U.S. Army is making an investment in Directed Energy prototype technology, with the Tactical High Power Operational Responder, or THOR, system, developed at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., playing a key role. (U.S. Air Force graphic)
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