01:42 GMT +321 August 2019
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    ‘It's a Cool Name': US Air Force Test Experimental THOR System to Counter Drones

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    The US Defense Department's Lab Day this week offered new insight into the Air Force's Tactical High-Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR), an ongoing experimental project for the service that's meant to take out smaller drones at high speeds.

    The Thursday event saw officials with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) show off a scaled model of the system, which according to Military.com was just one-sixteenth the size of THOR.

    "This is designed for base defense," 2nd Lt. James Wymer, a research physicist with the AFRL's technology directorate, told the outlet. "What it does is that it sends out that high-power, short pulse of microwaves that disable the electronics on [an opposing drone] system itself."

    "It's rapidly pulsed, so you don't need to dwell on target [and] hit it for a long period of time. You just hit it once… and continue to hit other targets as well," he added, noting that THOR complements the service's various other anti-drone systems.

    Steve Langdon, chief of the high-powered microwave technologies branch of the AFRL, explained to the publication that the THOR system has the ability to make 360-degree turns, and can move up and down to send out its pulses. It is also mobile, a feature that allows it to be broken down to the point that it can be transported on cargo airlifts.

    "Effects testing was accomplished at Kirtland Air Force Base, [New Mexico], and that's where we'll probably do [follow-on] testing as well," Langdon said. "White Sands Missile Range is probably where we want to go [in the fall]."

    A full demonstration of THOR's power is expected to take place in September 2019.

    With the release of the latest addition to the Marvel film series, "Avengers: Endgame," Langdon told Military.com reporter Oriana Pawlyk that researchers went with the THOR acronym simply because "it's a cool name."

    THOR, however, wasn't the only highlight of the expo. In fact, researchers with the US Army and the US Marine Corps showed off their mash-up creation of the Army's M58 mine-clearing line charge and the Corps' modular autonomous vehicles.

    "The Army and the Marine Corps combined existing tools… to create an autonomous, remotely controlled device that will shoot 350 feet of roped C4 plastic explosive out over a minefield to clear a path for follow-on service members," a DoD release on the mine-killer technology reads.

    The new tech is expected to be further tested later this year, possibly at California's National Training Center.

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    Tags:
    Tactical High-Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR), US Department of Defense (DoD), US Air Force, United States
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