A recent set of experiments with laser and microwave weapons in Oklahoma is shaping how the Air Force moves forward with its plan to protect bases from drones using directed energy.
Five systems participated in the Air Force portion of the Maneuver and Fires Integrated Experiment, an Army-run demonstration at Fort Sill, Okla., that ran from Oct. 15 to Nov. 6.
Those included Applied Technology Associates’ Locust system, Boeing’s Compact Laser Weapons System, Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Test High Energy Asset laser, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Tactical High-Power Operational Responder microwave weapon, and the Army’s Mobile Expeditionary High-Energy Laser, according to Michael Jirjis, who oversees directed energy efforts at AFRL’s strategic development planning and experimentation office.
Though the Air Force has vetted DE systems before, it participated in MFIX to explore command and control ideas for weapons that track and take down small drones. Each system connected to Army C2 and was run by security forces airmen.
The experiment downed about 80 unmanned aerial systems, Jirjis said, pitting single and multiple DE weapons against up to 20 UASes at a time.
Could the Air Force ramp up the test to include 100 drones, or 1,000? USAF isn’t ready to take on swarms of that size, Jirjis said, but the service could still see how its weapons fare against something like Intel’s drone swarm that put on a show over the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. (end of excerpt)
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