US Navy | To test microwave Anti-Drone weapon system at sea in 2026
Defence Redefined
Published on 03/04/2024 at 19:30

The US Navy plans to mount a high-powered microwave (HPM) prototype system on one of its combat vessels in 2026.

The system will come from the US Navy’s Project METEOR, which is developing a directed energy weapon system prototype that the service plans to integrate on warships in 2026.

The METEOR will provide firing capability with low cost-per-shot, tactically significant range, short time engagement for multi-target approach, dual deception (decoys), and defeat capability.

This system will be the US Navy’s first high-powered microwave, a type of directed energy weapon system that the Army, Navy, and Air Force are exploring to counter cheap unmanned aerial systems.

Unlike other directed energy systems the Navy uses, the METEOR prototype will use a different kill mechanism to disable targets. Instead of a focused beam of light, HPM systems use microwave energy to inflict damage to electronics inside targets. 

The US Navy believes that this mechanism will be useful in defeating Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBM) like the ones fielded by China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force.

Also read: BAE Systems | Delivery of next-generation digital IFF systems for the US Navy

The US Navy has a similarly-named, yet separately-funded, HPM project also called “METEOR” that is focused on accelerating technology development to address this ASBM issue in the Pacific.

HPM systems will also have utility in other operational theatres, like the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, where Houthis have fired hundreds of unmanned aerial systems and anti-ship cruise missiles at ships to disrupt global trade.

Next year, the US Navy will conduct a series of functionality tests on various subsystems matured under past programs before integrating them into what it refers to as the High Power Microwave Test Bed.

During this period, the Navy will also start implementing design changes to the prototype hardware to prepare it for ship integration. This will include electromagnetic interference measurements, which are carried out to find a suitable topside location (like on the top of the vessel’s mast) where the system won’t negatively interfere with the ship’s sensors or other systems.

Following the completion of these tests, the US Navy will begin open-air testing of the prototype system against surrogate targets at the Point Mugu Sea Range.

Also read: Epirus | Leonidas C-UAS system showcased at AUSA 2023

*Photo: US Navy




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