"When are you comin' back jimmy bell"
profrv at nex.net.au
Fri Apr 30 17:51:58 PDT 1999
"E-bomb" may see first combat use in Iraq
17:45 08 August 02 NewScientist.com news service
Weapons designed to attack electronic systems and not people could see
their first combat use in any military attack on Iraq.
It is widely believed that the US is planning for an attack that could
overthrow Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, who it believes is developing
weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi president responded publicly for the
first time on Thursday, exhorting Iraqis to be prepared "with all the force
you can to face your enemies".
US intelligence reports indicate that key elements of the Iraqi war machine
are located in heavily-fortified underground facilities or beneath civilian
buildings such as hospitals. This means the role of non-lethal and
precision weapons would be a critical factor in any conflict.
High Power Microwave (HPM) devices are designed to destroy electronic
equipment in command, control, communications and computer targets and are
available to the US military. They produce an electromagnetic field of such
intensity that their effect can be far more devastating than a lighting strike.
The effect exploited by HPM weapons was accidentally demonstrated in the
1950s when street lights in Hawaii were knocked out by the electromagnetic
pulse produced by high altitude nuclear tests.
One unclassified approach to producing the required pulse is a device
called an Explosive Pumped Flux Generator. In this a charged bank of
capacitors energises a coil wrapped around a copper tube, which itself
contains high explosives.
On detonation, the explosives expand the tube from the back and moves
rapidly forward, forcing the tube to make progressive contact with the coil
and causing a short circuit. This has the effect of crushing the magnetic
field at the same time as reducing the coil's inductance.
The resultant spike lasts tens to hundreds of microseconds and can produce
peak currents of tens of millions of Amps and peak energies of tens of
millions of Joules. By comparison, a typical lighting strike produces
around 30,000 Amps.
HPM weapons would be single-use and could be delivered on almost any a
cruise missile or unmanned aircraft. Future devices are likely to be re-usable.
Military planners will be particularly interested in claimed ability of HPM
weapon's to penetrate bunkers buried deep underground by using service
pipes, cables or ducts to transmit the spike. Insulating equipment from
such spikes, for example by using Faraday cages, is believed to be very
difficult and expensive.
Another weapon that targets electronic equipment has already seen use in
the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Blackout bombs, such as the formerly
classified BLU-114/B, releases a spider's web of fine carbon filaments into
the air above electrical distribution infrastructures. This causes short
circuits when the filaments touch the ground.
Tomahawk cruise missiles fitted with warheads operating on similar lines
attacked the Iraqi power grid during the 1990 Gulf war.
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