US Army’s Newest Anti-IED Weapon Is A Giant Microwave

U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Chandler Baker/released

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The U.S. Army is testing a new microwave weapon that can destroy improvised explosive devices (IEDs) before they blow up and destroy a convoy, Task and Purpose reported Sunday.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., is testing a MaxPower microwave system that sends out an electromagnetic pulse a billion times stronger than the average household microwave. The system houses vast amounts of magnetrons, high-powered vacuum tubes that generate microwaves, releasing enough energy to mess with an IED’s trigger system and make it explode before a convoy is in danger.

“MaxPower was one of the first Directed Energy systems that we deployed and used in theater,” Mary Lou Robinson, AFRL’s High Power Electromagnetics Division chief said in a statement. “MaxPower overcame that fear, hesitation, and stigma of using something in the theater that you can’t see, and it was used many times.”

The AFRL transferred the MaxPower program to the Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center to continue testing and hopefully deploy the technology.

AFRL build the MaxPower system for $50 million, and deployed to Afghanistan from 2007 to 2012. Since then, it’s been housed in AFRL’s labs while technicians continued to tweak it so that the invisible pulse doesn’t damage infrastructure.

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