On November 1st, the U.S. Army received an innovative high-power microwave prototype from the company Epirus, a significant advancement in a development initiative aimed at protecting soldiers and facilities from drone swarms. This prototype is the first of a set of four, derived from Epirus’s Leonidas anti-drone system, as part of a contract worth approximately $66.1 million that started in December 2022. The program, named Indirect Fire Protection Capability–High-Power Microwave (IFPC-HPM), anticipates the delivery of the second unit by the end of this year, with the remaining two expected early next year.
The Leonidas HPM system from Epirus, which has been under development for some time and was previously integrated onto a Stryker vehicle in collaboration with General Dynamics Land Systems, has recently been refined for the IFPC-HPM program. Although the specific modifications have not been disclosed, the spokesperson emphasized the system’s evolution, highlighting its increased lethality and software-driven capabilities.
The recent government acceptance test was pivotal, confirming the system’s effectiveness, safety, and compatibility with the Advanced Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2) systems. The spokesperson described the latest version as the most powerful and precise to date.
This development comes in response to the growing threat posed by inexpensive drone technology, which has compelled military leaders to seek new defensive measures, including directed-energy solutions. The Army’s IFPC initiative includes various defense mechanisms, such as kinetic interceptors, high-energy lasers, and now Epirus’s high-power microwave option.
The Army’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2024, which is awaiting Congressional approval, allocates nearly $11.2 million for the ongoing development of the IFPC-HPM, following a $41.4 million investment in the previous fiscal year.
As the Army advances its IFPC capabilities, there is a focus on practical considerations, such as how the systems will be used in combat and maintained in remote locations. Lieutenant General Daniel Karbler, head of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, has highlighted the complexity of these systems and the logistical challenges they present.
Epirus acknowledges these operational challenges and states that its design process for the high-power microwave system has been informed by the needs of the modern soldier, focusing on intuitive, secure, and reliable hardware and software interfaces. The company has engaged with soldiers and RCCTO technologists to gather feedback, aiming to refine the system for immediate testing and future field deployment.