Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) bombs have been written about for quite some time, and are supposed to have been used in a number of conflicts in the past 15 years. These weapons are designed to shut down cities, as well as military communications and weapon systems, not physically destroy them.
Well, just the electronic circuitry.
The U.S. military already has EMP capabilities, but it looks like, based on this Air Force solicitation published recently, that they’re about to get more tactical.
Want to cause total confusion before an invasion, or maybe get a huge white surrender flag waving at you before your first actual attack is carried out? Unleashing one of these over a modern city has the potential to shut down TV and radio broadcasting and receiving, car starters, home and office electronic circuitry, network routers, computers, embedded circuitry.
A number of U.S. commanders believe Iran is working on a similar weapon to be used against the West.
Combatant commanders (COCOMS) have expressed desires for additional military options against the variety of electronic systems that are used in military, industrial, civil, and asymmetrical applications. To provide viable military options to the COCOMS, the Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate’s High Power Microwave Division (AFRL/RDH) is seeking to develop and demonstrate the capability and operational utility of a high power microwave (HPM) aerial demonstrator.
The objective of this effort is to develop, test, and demonstrate a multishot and multitarget aerial HPM demonstrator that is capable of degrading, damaging, or destroying electronic systems. For this effort, the contractor shall develop a compact HPM payload for integration into an aerial platform. The contractor shall produce five aerial demonstrators.
One aerial platform without the HPM source shall be developed for a flight test to demonstrate delivery, controlability, and fusing. The remaining four aerial platforms with the integrated HPM source shall be developed for flight testing, demonstration, and HPM effects tests.
U.S. forces are also highly vulnerable to EMP attack, however. In recent years, the U.S. military has added sophisticated electronics to the full range of its arsenal. This electronic technology is largely built around consumer-grade semiconductor devices, which are highly sensitive to any power surge. More rudimentary vacuum tube technology would actually stand a better chance of surviving an e-bomb attack.
A widespread EMP attack in any country would compromise a military’s ability to organize itself. Ground troops might have perfectly functioning non-electric weapons (like machine guns), but they wouldn’t have the equipment to plan an attack or locate the enemy. Effectively, an EMP attack could reduce any military unit into a guerilla-type army.
While EMP weapons are generally considered non-lethal, they could easily kill people if they were directed towards particular targets. If an EMP knocked out a hospital’s electricity, for example, any patient on life support would die immediately. An EMP weapon could also neutralize vehicles, including aircraft, causing catastrophic accidents.
In the end, the most far-reaching effect of an e-bomb could be psychological. A full-scale EMP attack in a developed country would instantly bring modern life to a screeching halt. There would be plenty of survivors, but they would find themselves in a very different world.
Want to use your cell phone? Forget it. Need an ATM? No cash for you. Dependent on a life-support system? You have a problem.
Sounds like the perfect weapon to use against any modern society. The more dependent that society is on electronics, the more effective the EMP weapon.