Directed Energy Weapons: High Power Microwaves

Directed energy weapons (DEWs) are defined as electromagnetic systems capable of converting chemical or electrical energy to radiated energy and focusing it on a target, resulting in physical damage that degrades, neutralizes, defeats, or destroys an adversarial capability. Navy DEWs include systems that use High Energy Lasers (HEL) that emit photons, and High Power Microwaves (HPM) that release radiofrequency waves. The U.S. Navy uses DEWs for power projection and integrated defense missions. The ability to focus the radiated energy reliably and repeatedly at range, with precision and controllable effects, while producing measured physical damage, is the measure of DEW system effectiveness. Conversely, capabilities to increase the resilience or survivability of platforms or Sailors from DEW threats are part of the Counter Directed Energy Weapons (CDEW) program.

The Office of Naval Research has three weapons-oriented research concentration areas: High Power Microwaves (HPM); Ultra-Short Pulse Laser (USPL) and Atmospheric Characterization; and Counter-Directed Energy Weapons and High Energy Lasers (CDEW & HEL).

Research Concentration Area: High Power Microwaves (HPM)

HPM weapons create beams of electromagnetic energy over a broad spectrum of known radio and microwave frequencies, causing either temporary or permanent effects on electronics within targeted systems at scalable effects. Examples of effects include non-kinetic disabling of computer systems, damaging sensitive sensor or communications receiver electronics, disrupting security monitors, and the compromise of industrial control systems.

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Prediction of weapon effects through target vulnerability and lethality testing, data collection, and analysis that investigates HPM coupling mechanisms by utilizing modeling and simulation (M&S), and experimental validation
  • Pulsed power/power electronics, including high energy density batteries, power conditioning, switches, and modulator pulse forming networks that enable RF source development (vacuum and solid state) that increase effectiveness/lethality and enable higher rep-rate and frequency tunability
  • High power, low profile, conformal antenna design and radome materials, including very high power RF propagation and air breakdown modeling
  • Electronic battle damage assessment and indicators (eBDA/eBDI), including HPM sensors and instrumentation; improved predictive capability; mission effectiveness tools; engagement level modeling; weaponeering; electronic battle damage assessment (BDA) capabilities that are co-located; target interaction physics; advanced sensing; and waveform optimization research

Type of Funding Available

  • Basic Research
  • Applied Research
  • Advanced Technology Development
  • Advanced Component Development and Prototypes

Program Contact Information

Name: Ryan Hoffman

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 351

Email for Questions:

Program Funding

Submit white papers, QUAD charts and full proposals for contracts to this email address: ONR Code 35 Research Submissions

Follow instructions within BAA for submission of grant proposals to website.

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