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The Air Force and Navy have selected Raytheon, a division of RTX, to develop systems capable of neutralizing electronic components with directed-energy bursts.

Under the DEFEND program, Raytheon is set to deliver prototypes in fiscal years 2024 and 2026, with the contract totaling $31.3 million over three years.

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Currently in progress in Tucson, Arizona, the project focuses on constructing high-power microwave antenna systems. Colin Whelan, president of advanced technology at Raytheon, said, ‘ The new iterations of Raytheon’s high-power microwave systems are cost-effective and reliable solutions that operate at the speed of light.’ These systems are designed to protect against increasingly agile threats, such as advanced missile systems and stealth aircraft, by incapacitating the electronic circuitry of incoming weapons.

The Pentagon’s investment in directed-energy weapons averages $1 billion annually, aiming to integrate them across various platforms, including aircraft, warships, and ground vehicles. Raytheon’s prototypes are anticipated to be both “rugged and portable,” suitable for front-line defense against airborne threats. The company’s experience includes prior work on the Air Force CHIMERA project and installing high-energy lasers on armored vehicles for Raytheon UK.


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