Despite being commercially available, drones can be a real threat. They can barge into no-fly zones, engage in mid-air crashes, reconnaissance missions, or even conduct deadly air-strikes.
The risk of such attacks never wears off but in order protect its critical installations against rogue UAVs, United States military is working on some lethal counter-drone weapons. The service, in collaboration with defense manufacturer Raytheon, has produced two Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV) — one that uses high power microwave (HPM) to disable the target and other that deploys a high energy laser (HEL) to disintegrate it.
The two systems were put to test in a recent Maneuver Fire Integrated Experiment and were able to take out as many as 45 different drones out of the sky, along with a few stationary mortal projectiles, Popular Mechanics reported.
In two videos from the manufacturer, the weapons can be seen taking out different styles of drones. However, it is also worth noting they are not blowing the UAVs in the air, but burning through their systems in their own unique to stop their activity, something Raytheon describes as a “soft-killing” method.
HPM, sitting on top of a shipping container-like structure, relayed a wide microwave beam that burnt through control system of the drones and disabled them. The system knocked down two to three UAV out of the sky just in a single go.
Meanwhile, the high-energy laser, or HEL weapon, took down 12 drones during the exercise. It deployed a concentrated beam of power laser to burn through the external plastic of the vehicle and leading to structural failure.
Apart from this, the successful destruction of stationary mortal projectiles also hints at a major development — a weapon capable of destroying artillery rounds or projectiles.
Specifically, with further developments, the military could use microwave and laser weapons to heat up and detonate the explosive inside incoming projectiles. This could help disable them before they actually hit the target. However, that could still take years as a weapon like that will have to immediately track and concentrate a beam on the target.