Are there really conventional EMP bombs?

Who will use an EMP weapon first?

In the race for functional EMP systems, the weapons for the digital age, the development is moving in the direction of tactical systems, which will lower the threshold for deployment

The most dangerous weapon against digitized states and their military is a massive electromagnetic pulse that could paralyze or switch off the electronic and digital infrastructure of an entire country. The development of the computer has already created the final weapon with the atom bomb, because with an atom bomb detonated high in the air, the released radioactivity does not endanger life, but the electromagnetic impulse triggered by it can affect all non-hardened networks and electronic ones over a large area Switch off devices briefly but also permanently.

The potentially catastrophic threat posed by nuclear EMP weapons has been known since the 1960s, and there is currently a major concern that North Korea could now have the capability with long-range missiles and nuclear warheads, the United States in large parts with just a single nuclear attack, which is not the missile defense can be prevented from not destroying, but plunging into chaos in the long term (warning of a North Korean EMP attack on the USA).

The fears have been around for a long time, but of course EMP weapons are not only developed or considered in strategies by North Korea. Most recently, the hope was expressed that the Pentagon could effectively disable long-range ascending missiles with an EMP weapon shortly after they were launched. The focus is on the Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) developed by Boeing and Raytheon, which was allegedly tested successfully for the first time in 2012. A drone-like cruise missile was fired from an aircraft, which generated an electromagnetic pulse using high-performance microwaves that irreversibly damaged computers and electronic devices in seven objects for an hour. In contrast to a nuclear EMP weapon, CHAMP is a weapon that only attacks individual targets locally.

Similar to the fact that a nuclear EMP attack would not cause any direct victims like a conventional or nuclear bomb, CHAMP would have the advantage that, although the electronic systems of a rocket could be switched off without harming a person, but also all other electronic systems or radar systems in the in the vicinity would be affected by this "EMP precision strike". After the first CHAMP test, the then program manager dutifully announced the optimal goals of the technology as it could one day be. You can use it to "make an enemy's electronic and data systems unusable before the first troops or planes hit". It is said that the EMP weapon worked with one hundred percent accuracy.

So the idea would be to fire a CHAMP system with a rocket from an aircraft and thus prevent the further rise of a North Korean long-range rocket by freezing the electronics. Since it is not clear whether the American missile defense systems Patriot, THAAD, Aegis or NMD can intercept the missile during the ascent or during the re-entry into the atmosphere, one might have a safe means, suggest the representatives of the technology. The idea is to shoot down many such missiles if the worst comes to the worst, but the planes would have to be on site and the missiles would have to get close to their target so that the microwaves can paralyze the electronics.

The promise is that no ground troops and no massive "kinetic" attacks are necessary for this defense method, yes, that actually no armed attack takes place when the enemy missile is intercepted. However, CHAMP has to be delivered with a normal missile, which North Korea could just consider as a normal or even a nuclear missile, i.e. an attack to which it would react with all means.

What appears to be a relatively harmless defense using a non-lethal weapon that only switches off the control systems of a missile could quickly lead to a nuclear war that was just about to be prevented. In addition, the use of CHAMP missiles would open the game with EMP weapons, which has been avoided by all sides so far. However, CHAMP missiles are not yet available, but they are supposed to be ready for use quickly if necessary. Of course, that can only be a hint to North Korea, without being factual.

Fear of Russian EMP weapons is growing in the US

The National Interest, published by the Center for the National Interest, quickly jumped into the discussion, pointing to a greater threat from EMP weapons than North Korea. It is, of course, Russia, the great opponent of the Cold War, which has been reactivated for some time. In Russian media, a new tactical EMP weapon has been described which is considered threatening, although similar to CHAMP it only has local effects.

As part of the Alabuga program for the development of EMP weapons, there is also said to be a missile that emits an electromagnetic pulse with a UHF field (ultra-high frequency) with a range of 3.5 200 to 300 meters above an enemy position km gives away. It should not only paralyze computers, radar systems, communication systems and precision weapons, but make them unusable: "Even if the system is non-lethal and has no harmful effects on people, the electromagnetic effects of the rocket (up to 100 gigawatts) are allegedly comparable to a nuclear weapon" According to an article in Rossiyskaya Gazeta published in late September by the US Army's Foreign Military Studies Office.

In addition, an EMP weapon called Ranets-Ye that has been operational since 2001 had already been developed. With a 20 nanosecond long 500 MW radiation, they can destroy all electronic components within a radius of 8-14 km and paralyze them within a radius of 40 km, with which aircraft, rockets and any ammunition with electronics can be switched off. That would also include your own systems in the area, if these are not hardened. National Interest means after the first conjuring of a weapon, which is possibly just a pipe dream, that it was not wanted by the Russian military at all, because the EMP short-range missile system requires a direct line of sight to the target and also takes 20 minutes to recharge, which makes it fast Target would.

It becomes clear from the discussion that EMP weapons are eagerly being developed and that attempts are being made to lower the threshold for deployment, as is being aimed at with tactical nuclear weapons. The ultimate EMP weapon, which can electronically turn a huge area into a desert with a highly detonated atomic bomb, remains in the hindquarters. But tactical EMP weapons are as non-lethal as cyberattacks when directed against a powerful opponent, but they can still start a war more easily because they can be used tactically.

The EMP war scenario hovers in the air because there are hardly any means to effectively contain the consequences of a major attack. The US electricity companies say they would take security measures against EMP attacks and solar storms, but could not really prevent the consequences, even if one were better equipped against lightning or local EMP attacks. Hardening everything would come at an "astronomical cost". AN EPRI report (Electric Power Research Institute) gives a certain all-clear. According to simulations, the explosion of a 1.4-megaton atomic bomb at a height of 400 km would only interrupt the power supply regionally. That would only affect some states, not all of the Eastern or Western networks. According to none of the scenarios, the power supply would collapse across the country (protection against an EMP attack). (Florian Rötzer)

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