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US THOR Counter-Drone Technology Nearing Completion

The US Air Force tactical high-power operational responder (THOR) next-generation counter-drone system is nearing completion, technology news outlet GCN reported on Monday.

Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the weapon system is reportedly in the late operational assessment stages with a thoroughly tested prototype.

THOR Deputy Program Manager Capt. James Wymer revealed that a recently conducted field assessment showed nearly 90-percent effectiveness in neutralizing targets.

He says the system could achieve a 100 percent kill rate as it continues to undergo refinement.

AFRL High Power Electromagnetics Division lead Jeffry Heggemeier stated that THOR developers have been working “nights and weekends” to achieve the system’s full potential. He also said that seeing the THOR defending the country against aerial adversaries in the future would be the “real reward” for their hard work.

THOR Capabilities

The THOR counter-drone system provides a “non-kinetic” defense capability against multiple targets such as drone swarms, which could be challenging to hit using small armaments or other weapon systems.

The system uses high-power microwaves and a focused energy beam to simultaneously disable drones throughout a large target area, giving the air force a light, low-cost-per-shot solution against unmanned enemy aircraft.

THOR can be stowed in a 20-foot transport container and set up in just three hours. Operators are also easily trained on the system.

Earlier this year, the US Air Force uploaded a video showing how the directed-energy system uses powerful microwaves to take out incoming drones at long range. “A target is identified, the silent weapon discharges in less than a second, and the impact is instantaneous,” according to the video.

THOR has also achieved another milestone, being awarded “Best of What’s New” by Popular Science magazine in the security category.

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