Those Pesky Drones

We have had some discussions her on the blog about drones and the best way to take them down. Janes Defense (h/t Claudio) reported that Thor is about ready to take on the problem …more here

Tactical High-Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR)

THOR is a counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon the Air Force Research Laboratory developed for defense of airbases. The system provides non-kinetic defeat of multiple targets. It operates from a wall plug and uses energy to disable drones.

To be fair, all services are working to deploy their variants of the basic THOR unit against the threat of individual drones and drone swarms.


Can you identify the building?

If you’re able, to do that, can you explain what is just to the south of that building?  (Don D, care to comment?)



I met Heather Locklear in Anaheim, CA, when she was nineteen, but looked about sixteen. She was with her mother, who guarded her like a pit bull. It was obvious just by looking at her that she would have a career in film. She was attending UCLA at the time. Now, she’s pushing sixty and neither time nor fame were particularly kind to her. In the world, the candle burns and you can make it burn much faster if you’re inclined to do that.

A friend who also knew her in those days called me today and I reflected back. The eighties were interesting. More interesting than the 2020’s have been so far.


  1. Seems to me, the challenge with a swarm is pinpointing their location close enough to direct enough EM energy close enough to stop each one…If it operates from a wall plug, it generates about 2KW or less of power, which means a fairly narrow beam to (hopefully) disable electronics.
    I bet we’ll see shielded aircraft soon to counter these.

    • The drones that they are targeting are smaller, battery powered or possibly liquid fuel powered, with a link, which means that if the link is disrupted, good night Irene. The light nature of the construction means that if you’re going to start layering shielding, it’s going to create weight, and that equals range. You could build a Faraday Cage inside of the drone, but it would isolate the drone from the link.

      Cruise missiles are also drones, and I doubt that THOR will be able to do much to stop them.

  2. The world famous Del Coronado…been there once. “Some Like it Hot”
    Neat place. Similar old feel to the Don Cesar on the opposite coast, in St. Pete. Trying to build either of those today…nope. We took an evening walk on the beach, came upon the fence. Navy Seal territory, right?

      • I remember the elevator, and the musty fragrance.

        NAB- Was thinking they filmed The Guardian “swimmer” training there.

        You got me thinking….a THOR setting alongside the Hydra-6 might be a good fallback iffin the invasion happens, can’t invade if your vehicle ECM is dead. Wonder how much they want for one of those?

          • I’ve actually given some thought to this device the last few days, in terms of the stated mission, and the external appearance of the “Test Article” from the supplied photos.

            The article states the device shown is the Air Force version of the unit the army is considering, which has a slightly different purpose, per the article.

            It’s obvious (well, to me…) the device shown is just the “Emitter Assembly”. The antenna and it’s mount look to be in the “8~10,000lb” category. Slewing around a big dish like that takes a LOT of horsepower, and the parts have to be made beefy.

            I think there are better ways to do what they want to do, but I wouldn’t publish them…..

          • That would likely work, Ed.

            I often wonder if I’m worth the cost of an AGM-114, fired from a Reaper? They go for $70K each in 2021 dollars. If my government was to make sure that I was wiped out they’d likely have to fire two or three into the mine. Or maybe they wait until I’m in my truck (back down to one)?

            Or they could use an assault force of inner city people and trannies, which are free? Send enough of them (like Zulus at Isandlwana), but that would work too. A couple hundred thousand, up to a million inner-city casualties and you could take out much of the sparse population of Northern AZ.

  3. Celebrities pay a high price for their fame and fortune. Hopefully, for them it is worth it. I’ve known a few, in passing, and found most to be hard working people. I knew Dustin Hoffman when he worked one summer in the kitchen at Perry Mansfield (Julie Harris their most famous grad) so he could take lessons. My Dad shod their horses and I wrangled off and on for them.

  4. Hmmmm….no comment on Thor other than it’s gonna take a butt-walloping amount of electricity to run it.

    Haven’t known enough celebrities to say anything other than “They’re people”….

    • The problem with many (but not all) celebs is that they start to believe their own press. Same with politicians.

  5. Suuuure it operates from a wall plug, just like the “high power” microwave oven in your kitchen. You can’t even move that dish from a wallplug; imagine it swiveling fast enough to track a drone. Point many tens of kW of microwave at a human and they’re gonna be Thor, too.

    • That’s always the question. Power source. Microwaves (Masers) or Light (Lasers) or any concentrated energy beam will fire in pulses, but how many shots do you get? On a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, it’s limitless, or on a Spruance DDG burning Navy Distillate in a gas turbine, nearly limitless if the ship can unrep. Or a Zumwalt DDG with the capacity to light up a small city with its power generation capacity. But THOR sits on the top of a 20′ CONNEX Box. Batteries and a diesel generator to recharge? There are lot of questions.

    • You’ve shown THOR sitting on a semi trailer, which has plenty of space left for a generator. Then you can park the trailers around the site perimeter where you don’t have power. I would think the finished product would evolve to look like a self-contained anti-aircraft radar. :
      A TWT has sometimes been referred to as a traveling wave amplifier tube (TWAT), although this term has fallen out of use.

  6. I figured that a system like THOR would be in one of the trade magazines but there’s nothing other than little PR blurbs about THOR being tested or how cool it’s going to be. Nothing about how it works.

    As others have said, the most effective method would seem to be jamming, but if the drone is autonomous that’s not possible.

    I have my ideas about how to do it, but that would be pointless speculation.

    By the way, shouldn’t that acronym by THMOR instead? Pronounce “thom-or?”

    • THOM-OR isn’t as cool, and THOR has to sound cool. Taking out a fast mover like a cruise missile that is nap-of-the-Earth doesn’t offer much time for an earth bound defense system to lock on (see Navy CWIS or British/Canadian Goalkeeper). I don’t know how far that antenna will be able to keep the microwave pulse from scattering (altitude range). My sense is that THOR is there to defeat slow(er) moving, command driven, lower altitude aircraft – battery powered or smaller liquid powered.

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