Army Takes On Microwave Weapon
A prototype microwave defense system known as MAX POWER, which deployed in 2012 to Afghanistan, proved useful in neutralizing the threat of improvised explosive devices. The system houses high-powered vacuum tubes to generate microwaves that detonated roadside bombs before they could harm soldiers.
Originally developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, MAX POWER has transferred to the Army. In an agreement with the AFRL, the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at New Jersey’s Picatinny Arsenal is looking to see what it can do with MAX POWER’s hardware.
MAX POWER, which stands for Microwave Attack of Explosives Powerful Energy Radiation, was first deployed to Afghanistan’s Helmand province with a team of AFRL researchers, says Mary Lou Robinson, AFRL’s chief of the High Power Electromagnetics Division. Although there are no current plans to redeploy the system, an ARDEC spokesman says experimentation could lead to technological developments that will improve combat maneuverability and survivability.
Given that part of ARDEC’s mission is to develop technology that provides warfighters tools to defeat explosive hazards and improvised threats, MAX POWER is in the right place. “It is important to the Army to leverage the technology to enhance explosive hazard neutralization operations,” says Frank Misurelli, ARDEC public affairs specialist.
ARDEC officials say the technology could produce promising developments to meet Army needs. “The hardware ARDEC acquired provides a baseline means for developing future solutions to defeat explosive hazards and improvised threats,” Misurelli confirms.
Researchers have already conducted baseline testing to characterize the technology’s performance capabilities. “We are currently working with the Maneuver Center of Excellence to finalize a requirements document to identify and define user gaps that this technology can potentially be used to fulfill,” Misurelli explains.