Epirus, a company that builds modern defense systems to address 21st-century threats, has created Leonidas, a portable, powerful microwave energy weapon that can be used to disable a swarm of drones simultaneously or knock out individual drones within a group with extremely high precision. It works by overloading the electronics on board a drone, causing it to instantly fall out of the sky. It is referred to as a Counter-UAS — or Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems — tool.
Leonidas is a first-of-its-kind Counter-UAS system that uses solid-state, software-defined high-power microwaves (HPM) to disable electronic targets, delivering unparalleled control and safety to operators. Digital beamforming capabilities enable excellent accuracy so that operators can disable enemy threats, without disrupting anything else. Leonidas utilizes solid-state Gallium Nitride power amplifiers to give the system deep magazines and rapid firing rates, while dramatically reducing size and weight.
The energy weapon solution can be mounted on a truck, ship, or a variety of other vehicles or platforms, depending on what is required by the customer. The beam that it fires can be narrowed or widened based on the specifications of the target. The beam can be widened to instantly stop a swarm of approaching drones. Narrowing the beam down to a needle-like point acts as an energy weapon sniper rifle that can hit just one drone out of a group. It’s fast and the directed energy weapon produces a very high rate of fire, equivalent to multiple rounds per second. This is crucial because the threat of drone swarms is less about the indestructibility of any single one than their ability to potentially overwhelm through the strength of numbers.
In February, Epirus carried out a demonstration using a prototype version of its energy weapon for attendees from the Department of Defense and intelligence community. During the test, it successfully disabled 66 out of 66 drones. Having validated its approach, a field-ready version is now being prepped to be used operationally by the Defense Department later in 2021. The company is also reportedly working on a smaller mobile version for users who are on foot.