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Leidos to develop HPM prototype for C-UAS mission

The Air Force Research Laboratory's Tactical High Power Operational Responder (THOR) (US Air Force Research Laboratory)

Leidos has been selected by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to develop and build a new high-power microwave (HPM) weapon system prototype, building upon the existing Tactical High-Power Operational Responder (THOR) technology demonstrator.

Given the name Mjolnir – after the mythical Norse god Thor's hammer – the new system is intended to demonstrate advances in HPM technology for counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) missions. Leidos was selected in competition ahead of four rival bids.

HPM weapons provide non-kinetic defeat of targets using bursts of high-power microwaves. According to the AFRL, Mjolnir prototype development is intended to capitalise on earlier HPM systems and enable future transition to a programme of record.

Under a contract valued at USD26.9 million awarded on 24 February, Leidos will develop what AFRL calls a “mature prototype” based on the THOR first-generation C-UAS HPM demonstrator. Work is expected to be completed by the end of February 2024.

The THOR system was developed by BAE Systems in partnership with Leidos, Verus Research, and AFRL. Designed to disable the electronics in multiple unmanned aerial vehicles, it provides a capability against swarm attacks. The system is housed in two standard 20 ft containers that can be deployed by air and assembled by a crew of two.

According to AFRL, Mjolnir will use that same basic technology to address the C-UAS threat, but will introduce advances in capability, reliability, and manufacturing readiness.

Leidos has experience in supporting the AFRL Directed Energy Directorate and itsstaff led the design, development, and testing of the HPM source for the THOR system, as well as providing support for source operation and maintenance.

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