The U.S. Army is testing a new weapon that shares its name with the handheld laser of “Star Trek” fame. Developed by Raytheon, the Phaser can disable drones and virtually anything electronic with a sweep of its four-foot dish.
The Army’s Air Defense branch, which hasn’t had much to do for decades because of America’s overwhelming air supremacy, is back in the spotlight to fight a new threat. Concern about weaponized drones, especially in light of attacks by the Islamic State against coalition forces, have re-energized the service. The air defenders are testing the Phaser directed energy weapon to shoot down hostile drones.
The Phaser is a high-powered microwave radiation transmitter parked on top of a 20-foot shipping container. Accompanying radars, including the MPQ-64 Sentinel or Close Combat Tactical Radar, would detect, track, and track the target, then hand off that info to the Phaser. Powered by a diesel generator, Phaser can direct a brief jolt of microwave energy in the direction of incoming drones. The energy fries the control systems, stopping their motors and causing drones to fall out of the air.