The Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Leidos Inc. a $26 million next-generation counter-drone contract.
The Virginia-based defense company will build the Mjölnir counter-drone system based on its Tactical High-Power Operational Responder (THOR) technology with additional “capability, reliability, and manufacturing readiness.”
The THOR prototype, which is in its “late operational assessment stages,” uses a high-power laser to knock out individual drones and a microwave burst to disable drone swarms.
It offers a “greater engagement range than bullets or nets,” can be transported in a military cargo plane, and be assembled by two people.
The system achieved 90 percent effectiveness in neutralizing targets during field assessments last year. The developers claim that the system could achieve 100 percent effectiveness with “further refinement.”
Template for Future Systems
THOR program manager Adrian Lucero said, “The lessons learned from our successful overseas operational testing now define the new requirements for the Mjölnir program and will be the baseline configuration for future systems to be deployed around the world.”
“Mjölnir will focus on creating a detailed blueprint for all future cUAS [counter unmanned aerial system] HPM [high power microwave] systems with enhanced range and technology for detecting and tracking UASs [unmanned aerial systems]. This will ensure the US maintains our electromagnetic spectrum superiority.”
Work on Mjölnir will begin in the spring, and the prototype is expected to be delivered by 2023.