Friday, July 31, 2009

The Blackout Bomb

When a nuclear bomb detonates, the electromagnetic pulse emitted can knock out electronic equipment for miles. However, the pulse is accompanied by so much collateral damage that anyone who would be using a radio or computer would be vaporized by the blast. Instead, Instead, a new Air Force tool will fry electronics, as effective as a nuke's electromagnetic pulse, using high-power microwaves emitted by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This might seem familiar because Don Cheadle used a similar device, a z-pinch (pictured below), in Ocean's 11.

Edl Schamiloglu, a high-power microwave expert at the University of New Mexico, speculates that the weapon would focus microwaves on a target, where they would induce a power surge in unshielded wires, destroying circuits in satellite dishes, radars and anything else electronic. This would clear the way for troops or airstrikes and could even wipe out gear in hidden bunkers. A UAV, such as Boeing’s upcoming stealth Phantom Ray, will probably be the conveyance of choice, because it can fly into enemy territory without risking a pilot’s life. This raises a challenge for powering the instrument, Schamiloglu says. Although a UAV’s small engine could provide some power, it will take high-capacity batteries to produce the gigawatt microwave pulses. To make this truly amazing, they should use a flux capacitor

Here's the in-depth breakdown:

The battery and engine generate 10 nanosecond-long, gigawatt bursts of power. Each pulse produces an electron beam, which then enters a wider pipe that causes the stream of electrons to scatter, slow down, and give off energy as microwaves.
The UAV’s antenna emits gigawatt microwave pulses.

The microwaves’ electric field induces a current surge in unshielded wires that fries electronics. The microwaves can even travel through pipes or ventilation ducts into bunkers.

Article compliments of WarNewsUpdate Blog

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