Microwave-based C-UAS: the next big thing?

Microwave-based C-UAS: the next big thing?

It is important to acknowledge that the technology is still in its early stages, and other counter-drone technologies have already proven their reliability in dealing with drone swarms.


In recent years, the use of drones has skyrocketed, offering immense benefits across various industries. However, the rise of drone swarms has raised concerns about potential security threats. To tackle this emerging challenge, the defence industry has been actively exploring innovative counter-drone technologies. Among them, microwave-based C-UAS (Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems) has emerged as a promising solution.  One notable technology making headlines is THOR (Tactical High-Power Microwave Operational Responder), a microwave-based weapon system developed by the United States. While THOR showcases promising capabilities, it is important to acknowledge that the technology is still in its early stages, and other C-UAS technologies have already proven their reliability in dealing with drone swarms.

THOR, a project by the U.S. Department of Defence’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), represents a significant advancement in countering drone swarms. The advanced C-UAS technology is a microwave-based weapon system utilising high-power microwaves to disrupt and disable multiple drones simultaneously within a short time frame and, as such, reducing the time required to neutralise large-scale drone swarms. By targeting the electronic systems of UAVs, THOR renders them inoperable without causing physical damage. This non-kinetic approach offers a crucial advantage by minimising collateral damage risks while effectively neutralising potential threats.

The Unique Advantages of THOR: THOR’s design allows for easy integration into existing defence systems, enabling quick deployment and flexibility on various platforms, including ground vehicles and ships.One

In addition to THOR, Epirus Counter-drone Microwave System -based C-UAS technology is making strides. Developed by Epirus Inc., this system aims to utilise directed energy microwave technology to counter drone swarms. Similar to THOR, it operates by emitting high-power microwaves to disable the electronic systems of UAVs, providing an efficient and precise method of neutralisation.

The Epirus Counter-Drone Microwave System also boasts some notable features:

The Epirus system enables rapid deployment and ease of integration with existing defence infrastructure or mounted platforms, making it a valuable asset in countering this emerging threat.

Epirus’ technology allows for precise and focused microwave beams, enabling efficient neutralisation of individual drones within a swarm.  With its capability to engage multiple targets simultaneously, the Epirus system contributes to enhanced defence against large drone swarms.

While THOR and Epirus’s potential is certainly exciting, it is crucial to acknowledge that the technology is still in its early stages of development. Successful demonstrations against drone swarms do not guarantee immediate deployment as widely operational C-UAS systems. Additional rigorous testing, refinement, and evaluation are necessary to address various challenges that may arise during real-world scenarios.

It is important to note that prior to the emergence of THOR and Epirus, the defence industry had already developed and implemented reliable C-UAS technologies to combat drone swarms. Skylock, for example, offers a range of effective systems::

RF Detector: The flexible solution is a networked RF sensor capable of gathering information on incursive drones up to four kilometres away, depending on the RF environment.

RF jammer: A scalable, next-generation solution that employs advanced jamming methods up to one kilometre, including reactive-focused jamming and collaborative jamming. The advanced RF actively disrupts the control signal between the drone and its operator, protecting any perimeter against drone threats.

Drone spoofer: Skylock’s spoofing solution operates effectively on all drones, regardless of size, wing/propeller type, or speed. With two operations, this technology creates an invisible protective dome over critical infrastructure or designated areas, generating a “no-fly” zone across a two-kilometre area.

As the threat of drone swarms continues to evolve, a multi-faceted approach combining various C-UAS technologies will likely provide the most robust defence. Microwave-based C-UAS systems, such as THOR and the Epirus Counter-Drone Microwave System, offer significant potential, but it is important to complement them with existing and reliable technologies to ensure comprehensive protection against drone swarm threats.

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