Defense contractor Epirus said its directed-energy weaponry will be tested against small vessels in an upcoming U.S. Navy experiment.

The company’s Leonidas technology, which pumps out waves of energy capable of frying electronics, will be used in the 2024 Advanced Naval Technology Exercise-Coastal Trident, or ANTX-CT24, according to an April 4 announcement. The trials will examine how high-power microwaves can disable outboard motors, among other applications.

Navy leaders have lamented a lack of directed-energy options aboard warships as Houthi rebels in Yemen pepper the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden with attack drones and Ukrainian forces sink Russian ships with unmanned surface vessels. While the Department of Defense has invested in the nontraditional armaments for decades, few projects have been developed and widely deployed.

The Army in 2022 inked a $66 million deal with Epirus to supply Leonidas in advancement of its Indirect Fire Protection Capability venture, which aims to protect sites from drones, rockets, artillery, mortars and missiles. The company delivered an initial prototype in 2023, Defense News reported.

Chief executive Andy Lowery in a statement said his team was excited to participate in ANTX-CT24 and “demonstrate the effectiveness of long-pulse HPM technology in another threat environment.”

“Epirus can defend against a wide range of threats across domains,” Lowery said. “Our expanded collaboration with the Department of Defense also underscores the growing recognition of the benefits of working with innovative tech companies outside of the traditional defense ecosystem.”

At least 31 directed-energy initiatives are underway across the military, according to a study published by a defense industry advocacy group. Nine — including the Optical Dazzling Interdictor Navy and the High Energy Laser Counter-Anti-Ship Cruise Missile Program — can be traced back to the Navy and Marine Corps.

The ANTX-CT series serves as a test bed for promising technologies and promotes collaboration among industry, academia and the military. High-power microwave equipment has made an appearance before, according to Brendan Applegate, the lead for fleet experimentation and exercises.

“ANTX-CT24 will feature technical demonstrations and experiments across a wide variety of technology areas, including unmanned systems countermeasures,” he said in a statement.

Colin Demarest was a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covered military networks, cyber and IT. Colin had previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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