A WEAPON OF ELECTRONIC MASS DESTRUCTION
WRITTEN BY CARLO KOPP, DEFENSE ANALYST, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
High Power Electromagnetic Pulse generation techniques and High Power Microwave technology have matured to the point where practical E-bombs (Electromagnetic bombs) are becoming technically feasible, with new applications in both Strategic and Tactical InformationWarfare. The development of conventional E-bomb devices allows their use in non-nuclear confrontations. This paper discusses aspects of the technology base, weapon delivery techniques and proposes a doctrinal foundation for the use of such devices in warhead and bomb applications.
The prosecution of a successful Information Warfare (IW) campaign against an industrialised or postindustrial opponent will require a suitable set of tools. As demonstrated in the Desert Storm air campaign, air power has proven to be a most effective means of inhibiting the functions of an opponent's vital information processing infrastructure. This is because air power allows concurrent or parallel engagement of a large number of targets over geographically significant areas.
While Desert Stormdemonstrated that the application of air power was the most practical means of crushing an opponent's information processing and transmission nodes, the need to physically destroy these with guided munitions absorbed a substantial proportion of available air assets in the early phase of the air campaign. Indeed, the aircraft capable of delivering laser guided bombs were largely occupied with this verytarget set during the first nights of the air battle.
The efficient execution of an IW campaign against a modern industrial or post-industrial opponent will require the use of specialised tools designed to destroy information systems. Electromagnetic bombs built for this purpose can provide, where delivered by suitable means, a very effective tool for this purpose.
The EMP Effect
TheElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP) effect was first observed during the early testing of high altitude airburst nuclear weapons. The effect is characterised by the production of a very short (hundreds of nanoseconds) but intense electromagnetic pulse, which propagates away from its source with ever diminishing intensity, governed by the theory of electromagnetism. The ElectroMagnetic Pulse is in effect anelectromagnetic shock wave.
This pulse of energy produces a powerful electromagnetic field, particularly within the vicinity of the weapon burst. The field can be sufficiently strong to produce short lived transient voltages of thousands of Volts (ie kiloVolts) on exposed electrical conductors, such as wires, or conductive tracks on printed circuit boards, where exposed.
It is this aspect of the EMPeffect which is of military significance, as it can result in irreversible damage to a wide range of electrical and electronic equipment, particularly computers and radio or radar receivers. Subject to the electromagnetic hardness of the electronics, a measure of the equipment's resilience to this effect, and the intensity of the field produced by the weapon, the equipment can be irreversiblydamaged or in effect electrically destroyed. The damage inflicted is not unlike that experienced through exposure to close proximity lightning strikes, and may require complete replacement of the equipment, or at least substantial portions thereof.
Commercial computer equipment is particularly vulnerable to EMP effects, as it is largely built up of high density Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS)devices, which are very sensitive to exposure to high voltage transients. What is significant about MOS devices is that very little energy is required to permanently wound or destroy them, any voltage in typically in excess of tens of Volts can produce an effect termed gate breakdown which effectively destroys the device. Even if the pulse is not powerful enough to produce thermal damage, the power...