The Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) directed energy directorate at Kirtland AFB, N.M., has awarded a $26 million contract to Leidos [LDOS] to develop the company’s Mjölnir high power microwave (HPM) weapon against adversary drones.

The company said recently that it had received a potential five-year $82 million contract from the Air Force to support the service’s counter-small unmanned aerial system efforts (Defense Daily, Jan. 4). The contract is to support the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center to enhance air base defense against small drones.

The work on Mjolnir is to draw upon AFRL’s Tactical High-Power Operational Responder (THOR) demonstrator developed by BAE Systems, Albuquerque-based Verus Research, and Boise-based Black Sage.

“The new prototype will be called Mjölnir, the mythical Norse God Thor’s mighty hammer,” Adrian Lucero, THOR program manager, said in a Feb. 24 AFRL statement. “Because THOR was so successful, we wanted to keep the new system’s name in the family.”

THOR uses intense radio waves to disable small drones quickly. Swarms of small, inexpensive drones are a stated concern for Pentagon officials, as other nations have used such drones for strikes.

“The lessons learned from our successful overseas operational testing, now define the new requirements for the Mjölnir program, and will be the baseline configuration for future systems to be deployed around the world,” Lucero said in the statement.

AFRL said that the Mjolnir prototype will use the same THOR technology but “will add important advances in capability, reliability, and manufacturing readiness.”

Lucero said that Leidos has the expertise to build multiple HPM systems in the future and that the Mjolnir effort “will focus on creating a detailed blueprint for all future cUAS HPM systems with enhanced range and technology for detecting and tracking UASs.”

“This will ensure the U.S maintains our electromagnetic spectrum superiority,” he said.

Leidos is to work on Mjolnir at the company’s Albuquerque location and deliver the Mjolnir prototype to AFRL next year.