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Air Force to develop anti-drone system named for Thor's hammer, Mjolnir

Air Force to develop anti-drone system named for Thor's hammer, Mjolnir
The U.S. Air Force announced that it will seek prototypes for Mjolnir, an improved version of its Tactical High-Power Operational Responder, or THOR, pictured, and named after the mythical god's hammer. Photo by John Cochrane/U.S. Air Force

Aug. 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force seeks prototypes for a microwave-based anti-drone system to be called Mjolnir, referring to the mythical hammer of Thor, it said on Monday.

The Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate at Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M., will build an advanced version of its THOR, or Tactical High-Powered Operational Responder, which uses "bursts of intense radio waves to disable small unmanned aircraft systems instantly," an Air Force press release said.

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The Mjolnir prototype will use the same technology but is expected to offer increased capability, reliability and manufacturing readiness.

"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."

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THOR is a prototype directed energy weapon used to disable the electronics in drones, and is designed to counter multiple targets, such as a swarm of drones.

The technology is housed in a 20-foot-long shipping container that can be stowed in a military cargo plane and quickly assembled by two people.

"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," Adrian Lucero, THOR deputy program manager, said in the press release.

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"The program will begin this fall with a delivery of the prototype weapon in 2023," Lucero said.

A request for proposals will be posted on SAM.gov, the official website for companies seeking federal contract opportunities, at a later date, the Air Force said.

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