Raytheon's Phaser Microwave Beam Weapon is Certifiably Insane, Can BBQ Hypersonic Missiles

Raytheon Phaser 6 photos
Photo: Raytheon Missiles & Defense
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There was a time when militaries using laser technology, or any type of "energy beam" in their weapons systems, was a practically absurd idea. One that may have even been laughed at.
But you have to understand something about the United States Armed Forces. They don't think like normal people or have normal people sensibilities when it comes to their weapons systems. If the science exists to bring a new design off the drawing board and into reality, chances are pretty darn good that it at least reaches the prototype phase or even sees combat.

Hence, why Raytheon Missiles and Defense is so proud of their new drone and missile defense system, the Phaser. Because it has tech that would have been in the realm of witchcraft in most people's minds only a short time ago. That's right, Raytheon is building energy lasers with the power to vaporize drones and defeat hypersonic missiles before they can deposit their payloads.

Of course, the Phaser system is only a cog in a vast array of defense systems under Raytheon's development umbrella. A portion of a system it calls "Layered Air Defense." This consists of an array of defensive missiles, close-in-weapons systems, and directed energy weapons designed to ensure areas of operation where these systems are located remain free of enemy UAVs, manned aircraft, and ballistic missile threats.

Raytheon first conducted field tests with its Phaser system at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in 2018. But these early tests were mere technological demonstrators. Now, recent official details from Raytheon Missiles and Defense detail how they plan to flesh out Phaser technology for use in a wide array of strategic and tactical applications. All at a cost to performance that will make the accountants at the Pentagon very happy indeed.

Raytheon Phaser
Photo: Raytheon Missiles & Defense
Long-time military junkies may remember when the Airborne laser system was conducted using a modified Boeing 747 in the 2000s and 2010s. Raytheon's proprietary beam technology present in the Phaser project operates similarly in some aspects but also completely different in others. Allow us to explain.

As anyone who actually paid attention in high school science class may remember, microwave beams and laser beams are separate forms of energy. They exist on a spectrum that ranges from the stuff that heats a disgusting TV dinner unevenly to the stuff that movies and television say will give you superpowers. But in reality, it may just kill you if you absorb enough.

Raytheon claims that Phaser can effectively harness and concentrate microwave/radio waves into a form powerful enough to shoot down hypersonic ballistic missiles before they impact their targets. All while using the same principles as laser beam weapons. If successful, it would be one of the first field deployments of a non-sea-fairing beam weapons system of its kind on a field of battle.

Capable of being deployed from Jeeps, HUMVEES, trucks, and potentially even aircraft, Raytheon's Phaser system has the potential to adapt microwave beam weapons to roles like long-range ballistic missile defense, attack drone swarm defense, and even airborne close-air-support aboard AH-64 Apache Helicopters.

Raytheon Phaser
Photo: Raytheon Missiles & Defense
"Our adversaries are coming up with increasingly sophisticated and innovative ways to attack us," said Colin Whelan, vice president of Advanced Technology for Raytheon Missiles & Defense. "We need lower-cost solutions to counter them." There may come a day that directed energy weapons traveling at light speed are the best bet as a defense against ballistic missile attacks.

With hypersonic cruise missiles advancing at a break-neck pace, it's Raytheon that will bring the weapon to battle. On a battlefield unlike any before in human history. Check out Raytheon's most recent official publication on Phaser down below. Be sure to tune in again soon for more military tech and so much more on autoevolution.
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