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US military invests in energy beam weapons to take down drones

ZDNet

The US military has invested in a prototype energy beam weapon designed to zap drones in the sky. This week, the US Air Force said the prototype, dubbed the Tactical High Power Operational Responder (THOR), is a "directed energy" weapon that could use both lasers and microwaves to take out unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drone swarms. THOR, perhaps named in deference to the Norse god of thunder, is being developed to fire at multiple targets at the same time with what the military calls "rapid results." The weapon needs to be housed in a shipping container that is 20-foot-long, but this means it can also be transported, moved via cargo plane, and could be installed at different military bases. THOR has been developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Directed Energy Directorate, located at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.


US Army is developing a the 'most powerful' laser in history which will vaporize targets

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The US Army is developing its most powerful laser yet that is a million times more powerful than current systems. Most laser weapons fire a continuous beam until a target melts or catches fire, but the Tactical Ultrashort Pulsed Laser (UPSL) for Army Platforms will emit short, pulse-like bursts. Its being designed to reach a terawatt for a brief 200 femtoseconds, which is one quadrillionth of a second, compared to the 150-kilowatt maximum of current systems. It's also thought such a burst would disrupt nearby electronics systems, making it a functional electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The US military group is aiming to have a working prototype by August 2022.


U.S. Aircraft Carrier Returning Home After Long Sea Tour Watching Iran

NYT > Middle East

The aircraft carrier Nimitz is finally going home. The Pentagon last month ordered the warship to remain in the Middle East because of Iranian threats against President Donald J. Trump and other American officials, just three days after announcing the ship was returning home as a signal to de-escalate rising tensions with Tehran. With those immediate tensions seeming to ease a bit, and President Biden looking to renew discussions with Iran on the 2015 nuclear accord that Mr. Trump withdrew from, three Defense Department officials said on Monday that the Nimitz and its 5,000-member crew were ordered on Sunday to return to the ship's home port of Bremerton, Wash., after a longer-than-usual 10-month deployment. The Pentagon for weeks had been engaged in a muscle-flexing strategy aimed at deterring Iran and its Shia proxies in Iraq from attacking American personnel in the Persian Gulf to avenge the death of Maj. General Suleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed in an American drone strike in January 2020.


Navy wants 21 new large undersea and surface attack drones in 5 years

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. The Navy is getting into drones in a big way, with new plans to add 21 unmanned surface and underwater vessels over the next five years. The Navy just released its 30-year shipbuilding plan, which reflects a growing emphasis on the use of drones in maritime combat. Between now and 2026, the Navy aims to acquire 12 large unmanned surface vessels, one medium unmanned surface vessel and 8 extra-large unmanned underwater vessels, according to the plan.


Navy arms destroyers with new drone, aircraft and missile defenses

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Attacking enemy cruise missiles, fighter jets, helicopters and longer-range high altitude ballistic missiles all present substantial threats to Navy surface ships, especially when multiple attacks arrive simultaneously. By and large, defending against incoming ballistic missiles and air and cruise missiles requires separate defensive systems … until now. A new family of SPY-6 radar systems is being quickly expanded by the U.S. Navy to incorporate a much wider swath of the fleet.


Soleimani anniversary marked in Baghdad with procession, candlelight vigil

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. BAGHDAD -- A mock funeral procession marked the anniversary of the assassination of Iran's top general and a senior Iraqi militia leader in a U.S. drone strike that heightened fears of a military escalation in the region. Thousands of mourners joined the march on the highway leading to the Baghdad airport Saturday evening where the strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis took place. Soleimani's killing dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the region and brought the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war.


Iran plans 20 percent uranium enrichment 'as soon as possible'

FOX News

Center for Security Policy CEO Fred Fleitz provides insight on'America's News HQ.' DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Iran said Saturday it plans to enrich uranium up to 20% at its underground Fordo nuclear facility "as soon as possible," pushing its program a technical step away from weapons-grade levels as it increases pressure on the West over the tattered atomic deal. The move comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the waning days of the administration of President Donald Trump, who unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran's nuclear deal in 2018. That set in motion an escalating series of incidents capped by a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad a year ago, an anniversary coming Sunday that has American officials now worried about possible retaliation by Iran. Iran's decision to begin enriching to 20% a decade ago nearly brought an Israeli strike targeting its nuclear facilities, tensions that only abated with the 2015 atomic deal. A resumption of 20% enrichment could see that brinksmanship return.


In Abrupt Reversal of Iran Strategy, Pentagon Orders Aircraft Carrier Home

NYT > Middle East

The Pentagon has abruptly sent the aircraft carrier Nimitz home from the Middle East and Africa over the objections of top military advisers, marking a reversal of a weekslong muscle-flexing strategy aimed at deterring Iran from attacking American troops and diplomats in the Persian Gulf. Officials said on Friday that the acting defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller, had ordered the redeployment of the ship in part as a "de-escalatory" signal to Tehran to avoid stumbling into a crisis in President Trump's waning days in office. American intelligence reports indicate that Iran and its proxies may be preparing a strike as early as this weekend to avenge the death of Maj. Senior Pentagon officials said that Mr. Miller assessed that dispatching the Nimitz now, before the first anniversary this Sunday of General Suleimani's death in an American drone strike in Iraq, could remove what Iranian hard-liners see as a provocation that justifies their threats against American military targets. Some analysts said the return of the Nimitz to its home port of Bremerton, Wash., was a welcome reduction in tensions between the two countries.


Iran general warns US that it's ready to respond to military pressure

FOX News

The president says he will hold Iran responsible if any Americans are killed as the USS Georgia passes through the Strait of Hormuz; Lucas Tomlinson reports. TEHRAN, Iran – The top commander of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said Friday that his country was fully prepared to respond to any U.S. military pressure as tensions between Tehran and Washington remain high in the waning days of President Donald Trump's administration. Gen. Hossein Salami spoke at a ceremony at Tehran University commemorating the upcoming one-year anniversary of the U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who headed the expeditionary Quds force, on Jan. 3, 2020. At the time, Iran retaliated by launching a ballistic missile strike on a military base in Iraq that caused brain concussion injuries to about 100 U.S. troops. Washington and Tehran came dangerously close to war as the crisis escalated.


Pentagon Sends More B-52s to Middle East to Deter Iranian Attacks on U.S. Troops

NYT > Middle East

Two American B-52 bombers flew another show-of-force mission in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday, a week after President Trump warned Iran that he would hold it accountable "if one American is killed" in rocket attacks in Iraq that the administration and military officials blamed on Tehran. The warplanes' 36-hour round-trip mission from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota was the third time in six weeks that Air Force bombers had conducted long-range flights about 60 miles off the Iranian coast, moves that military officials said were intended to deter Iran from attacking American troops in the region. The United States periodically conducts such quick demonstration missions to the Middle East and Asia to showcase American air power to allies and adversaries. But tensions have been rising in advance of the Jan. 3 anniversary of the American drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and the Iraqi leader of an Iranian-backed militia -- deaths that Iranian leaders repeatedly insist they have not yet avenged.