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AFRL’s drone killer, THOR will welcome new drone “hammer”

An artist’s rendering of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s THOR, a drone killer, capable of downing many adversarial drones in fractions of a second. A follow-on system named Mjolnir, the hammer belonging to the mythical Norse God, Thor will soon be under development at AFRL. (Courtesy illustration)

An artist’s rendering of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s THOR, a drone killer, capable of downing many adversarial drones in fractions of a second. A follow-on system named Mjolnir, the hammer belonging to the mythical Norse God, Thor will soon be under development at AFRL. (Courtesy illustration)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate is seeking partners to build a new counter electronics weapon system, to defend against the ever increasing threat of adversarial drone activity.
 
Building upon the success of the Tactical High-Power Operational Responder (THOR) technology demonstrator, AFRL is building an advanced high-power microwave (HPM) weapon system to bring their newest technology to bear against the growing threat from unmanned aircraft.
 
“The new prototype will be called Mjolnir, after the mythical Norse god, Thor’s hammer,” said Amber Anderson, THOR program manager. “Because THOR was so successful, we wanted to keep the new system’s name in the THOR family.”
 
The AFRL team working from Kirtland Air Force Base are experts in High-Power Electromagnetics technology. The THOR demonstrator used bursts of intense radio waves to disable small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) instantly.
 
“After a successful 2-year testing campaign, the AFRL team has learned a lot about the benefits of the technology and how it can be improved,” Anderson said.
 
The Mjolnir prototype will use the same technology, but will add important advances in capability, reliability, and manufacturing readiness.
 
“We are releasing an opportunity for businesses in the directed energy field, to help us build the follow-on system, said Adrian Lucero, THOR deputy program manager.  ”AFRL’s goal is to create a blueprint for our partners so these systems can be economically produced in large quantities, and to grow a fledgling industry that will become critically important as the U.S. strives to maintain our electromagnetic spectrum superiority.”
 
AFRL is working closely with cross-service partners in the Joint Counter sUAS Office and the Army’s Rapid Capability and Critical Technologies Office.
 
“As the danger from drone swarms evolves, all services are working closely to ensure emerging technologies like Mjolnir, will be ready to support the needs of warfighters already engaged against these threats. The program will begin this fall with a delivery of the prototype weapon in 2023,” said Lucero.
 
A request for proposal from companies interested in working with AFRL to develop this prototype will be posted on SAM.gov, an official site for companies seeking federal contract opportunities.

About AFRL

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace forces. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com