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Old 11-06-2009, 03:23 AM   #1
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Default E-Bomb

High-power microwave (HPM) sources have been under investigation for several years as potential weapons for a variety of combat, sabotage, and terrorist applications. Due to classification restrictions, details of this work are relatively unknown outside the military community and its contractors. A key point to recognize is the insidious nature of HPM. Due to the gigahertz-band frequencies (4 to 20 GHz) involved, HPM has the capability to penetrate not only radio front-ends, but also the most minute shielding penetrations throughout the equipment. At sufficiently high levels, as discussed, the potential exists for significant damage to devices and circuits. For these reasons, HPM should be of interest to the broad spectrum of EMC practitioners.

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and High Powered Microwave (HMP) Weapons offer a significant capability against electronic equipment susceptible to damage by transient power surges. This weapon generates a very short, intense energy pulse producing a transient surge of thousands of volts that kills semiconductor devices. The conventional EMP and HMP weapons can disable non-shielded electronic devices including practically any modern electronic device within the effective range of the weapon.

The effectiveness of an EMP device is determined by the power generated and the characteristic of the pulse. The shorter pulse wave forms, such as microwaves, are far more effective against electronic equipment and more difficult to harden against. Current efforts focus on converting the energy from an explosive munitions to supply the electromagnetic pulse. This method produces significant levels of directionally focused electromagnetic energy.

Future advances may provide the compactness needed to weaponize the capability in a bomb or missile warhead. Currently, the radius of the weapon is not as great as nuclear EMP effects. Open literature sources indicate that effective radii of “hundreds of meters or more” are possible. EMP and HPM devices can disable a large variety of military or infrastructure equipment over a relatively broad area. This can be useful for dispersed targets.

A difficulty is determining the appropriate level of energy to achieve the desired effects. This will require detailed knowledge of the target equipment and the environment (walls, buildings). The obvious counter-measure is the shielding or hardening of electronic equipment. Currently, only critical military equipment is hardened e.g., strategic command and control systems. Hardening of existing equipment is difficult and adds significant weight and expense. As a result, a large variety of commercial and military equipment will be susceptible to this type of attack.

The US Navy reportedly used a new class of highly secret, non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse warheads during the opening hours of the Persian Gulf War to disrupt and destroy Iraqi electronics systems. The warheads converted the energy of a conventional explosion into a pulse of radio energy. The effect of the microwave attacks on Iraqi air defense and headquarters was difficult to determine because the effects of the HPM blasts were obscured by continuous jamming, the use of stealthy F-117 aircraft, and the destruction of Iraq's electrical grid. The warheads used during the Gulf War were experimental warheads, not standard weapons deployed with fielded forces.

Col. William G. Heckathorn, commander of the Phillips Research Site and the deputy director of the Directed Energy Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory, was presented the Legion of Merit medal during special retirement ceremonies in May 1998. In a citation accompanying the medal, Col. Heckathorn was praised for having provided superior vision, leadership, and direct guidance that resulted in the first high-power microwave weapon prototypes delivered to the warfighter. The citation noted that "Col. Heckathorn united all directed energy development within Army, Navy and Air Force, which resulted in an efficient, focused, warfighter-oriented tri-service research program." In December of 1994 he came to Kirtland to become the director of the Advanced Weapons and Survivability Directorate at the Phillips Laboratory. Last year he became the commander of the Phillips Laboratory while still acting as the director of the Advanced Weapons and Survivability Directorate.

As with a conventional munition, a microwave munition is a "single shot" munition that has a similar blast and fragmentation radius. However, while the explosion produces a blast, the primary mission is to generate the energy that powers the microwave device. Thus, for a microwave munition, the primary kill mechanism is the microwave energy, which greatly increases the radius and the footprint by, in some cases, several orders of magnitude. For example, a 2000-pound microwave munition will have a minimum radius of approximately 200 meters, or footprint of approximately 126,000 square meters.

Studies have examined the incorporation of a high power microwave weapon into the weapons bay of a conceptual uninhabited combat aerial vehicle. The CONOPS, electromagnetic compatibility and hardening (to avoid a self-kill), power requirements and potential power supplies, and antenna characteristics have been analyzed. Extensive simulations of potential antennas have been performed. The simulations examined the influence of the aircraft structure on the antenna patterns and the levels of leakage through apertures in the weapons bay. Other investigations examined issues concerning the electromagnetic shielding effectiveness of composite aircraft structures.

Collateral damage from E-bombs is dependent on the size and design of the specific bomb. An E-bomb that utilizes explosive power to obtain its damaging microwaves will result in typical blast and shrapnel damage. Ideally, an E-Bomb would be designed to minimize and dissipate most of the mechanical collateral damage. Human exposure to microwave radiation is hazardous within several meters of the epicenter. However, there is a relatively low risk of bodily damage at further distances.

Any non-military electronics within range of the E-bomb that have not been protected have a high probability of being damaged or destroyed. The best way to defend against E-bomb attack is to destroy the platform or delivery vehicle in which the E-bomb resides. Another method of protection is to keep all essential electronics within an electrically conductive enclosure, called a Faraday cage. This prevents the damaging electromagentic field from interacting with vital equipment. The problem with Faraday cages is that most vital equipment needs to be in contact with the outside world. This contact point can allow the electromagentic field to enter the cage, which ultimately renders the enclosure useless. There are ways to protect against these Faraday cage flaws, but the fact remains that this is a dangerous weakpoint. In most circumstances E-bombs are categorized as 'non-lethal weapons' because of the minimal collateral damage they create. The E-bomb's 'non-lethal' categorization gives military commanders more politically-friendly options to choose from
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Old 11-06-2009, 03:25 AM   #2
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E-Bomb Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

by Dr Carlo Kopp
(c) 2003, Carlo Kopp

1.Who invented the E-bomb?
The technology to build various types of electromagnetic bombs has been around since the 1950s. Early work on flux generator power sources which could be used in such weapons was performed by the Los Alamos National Labs in the US - a byproduct of research into high speed fusing systems for implosion based nuclear weapons. High Power Microwave (HPM) devices have been the subject of research for decades, primarily a byproduct of radar technology. There is no single `inventor' of the E-bomb - it is the result of the confluence of several technologies developed over the last five decades.

2.What is an E-bomb?
E-bomb is short for `Electromagnetic Bomb'. The definition is very broad, but essentially covers all bombs or warheads designed to damage targets with a very intense pulse of electromagnetic energy. The principal distinction is the wavelength of the energy produced by the weapon. Low frequency E-bombs approximate the effects of a close lightning strike, microwave or HPM E-bombs flood the target with a directional field of intense microwave illumination. The the latter is not unlike a microwave oven, but it is extremely short in duration and involves much higher power levels.

3.What effects are produced by an E-bomb?
An E-bomb which is well matched to it intended target set can cause electrical damage over a footprint which might be as large as hundreds of metres in diameter. Victim devices may suffer secondary damage from their power supply. Victim devices may also be `wounded' and experience failure minutes, hours, days or weeks later, from electrical overstress. If the weapon does not generate eneough power to produce permanent damage, it can cause computers to crash, hang or reboot, thus yielding a temporary disruptive effect.

4.What kind of targets are most vulnerable?
High density digital electronics using CMOS and NMOS are most vulnerable since their transistor sizes are smallest and require the least energy to destroy. However, recent radio-frequency electronics especially microwave band hardware can also be vulnerable.

5.How does an E-bomb couple energy into its target?
Low frequency or broadband E-bombs will produce `spikes' or electrical surges in electrical grid wiring and telephone or communications wiring. These propagate until they encounter an attached piece of equipment like a computer, which is exposed to an electrical overload and damaged. Microwave or HPM E-bombs produce electrical standing waves in electrical grid wiring and telephone or communications wiring - the microwave energy then couples into the target device via the cable connector and may cause internal damage. This is termed `backdoor coupling'. Another way in which microwave weapons can effect `backdoor coupling' is via cooling and ventilation grilles, which might act as a `slot antenna' permitting energy to penetrate into an otherwise shielded case. Radio frequency equipment can also be damaged via `frontdoor coupling' effects where the microwave energy penetrates through the victim equipment's antenna.

6.How large is the damage footprint of an E-bomb?
This depends on both the design of the E-bomb and the `hardness' of its target. There are no simple answers to this question, and the magnitude of the footprint against any class of equipment can only be determined by comprehensive testing of an existing weapon.

7.What collateral damage might be produced by an E-bomb?
That depends on the design of the bomb. A bomb which is powered by an explosive device, like a flux generator, might produce some blast and shrapnel/spalling effects consistent with a high velocity explosive charge of several kilograms of weight (even a `small' GBU-12 250 kg laser guided bomb for comparison carries 87 kg of explosive filler which is roughly ten or more times the explosive effect of an E-bomb of similar size). However, a well designed spall absorbing jacket placed around the flux generator in the E-bomb could inhibit much of the mechanical collateral damage produced by the E-bomb. Exposure to microwave radiation from HPM E-bombs may be hazardous at ranges of several metres, but it is unlikely to produce any tissue damage at distances of hundreds of metres or kilometres. Consumer electronics and computers, medical electronics and other non-military electronic hardware within the footprint of the weapon is likely to be electrically destroyed or damaged. The E-bomb therefore qualifies as a `non-lethal weapon' under most conventions.

8.How can E-bombs be deployed?
Guided and unguided aerial bombs, cruise missiles, glide bombs, artillery shells and guided or unguided ballistic missiles could be used to deliver an E-bomb warhead. The larger the delivery weapon, the larger the volume and power rating of the E-bomb carried.

9.Which military forces maintain inventories of E-bombs?
No government has formally disclosed the ownership of an inventory of E-bombs. Leaks to `Aviation Week & Space Technology' suggest that the US Air Force and Royal Air Force have experimented with microwave E-bombs, however neither service has made any public disclosures in briefings. In principle, any nation with a 1950s technology base capable of designing and building nuclear weapons and radars will have the capability to design and build an E-bomb.

10.What is Carlo Kopp's contribution to the E-bomb?
Dr Carlo Kopp wrote several strategy papers during the early and mid 1990s which described the strategic importance of the E-bomb, its possible military effects, applications and side effects, and outlined some of the available design strategies for these weapons. The first of these papers was published by the Royal Australian Air Force in 1993, the largest and most important paper was published by the US Air Force in 1995
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