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US dangerously downgrades microwave weapon program

The US Navy is developing a prototype high-power microwave weapon, known as METEOR, to provide close-in defense against missiles, drones and small boats, The Warzone reported.

The program is part of a drive to test and deploy HPM weapons to conserve other weapons, particularly those capable of downing ballistic missiles, but questions are rising about whether the US is putting enough financial energy behind it.

HPM weapons generate bursts of microwave energy capable of disrupting or destroying electronics inside target systems and are attractive due to their low cost per shot, lack of physical reloading and theoretically unlimited magazine depth.

Despite the urgency to develop such weapons, The Warzone reports that the US Navy is seeking just US$9 million for METEOR in fiscal year 2025, a fall from the $13.5 million requested in 2024.

The METEOR HPM weapon development aims to demonstrate tactically significant, non-kinetic HPM payload integration onto naval platforms to defeat, track, engage and assess operational threats.

The US Navy’s budget documents reveal that the METEOR project is a component of the Pentagon’s Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve initiative, aimed at providing shipboard HPM defense capability against Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles (ASBM) and other stressing stream raid threats.

The Warzone states that the US Navy’s warships have expensive and restricted options to counter ballistic missile threats. It notes that the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers can use the advanced SM-3 Block IIA missile, each costing $28 million. It also mentions that the US Navy now considers HPM weapons a crucial part of future defense arrangements to protect against various threats, including