Tags: emp | weapons | portable

Deadly Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons Going Portable

By Dave Eberhart   |   Thursday, 09 Apr 2009 12:31 PM

Deadly electromagnetic pulse weapons are available that can turn a single terrorist into an engine of destruction – and they are only a click of the mouse away.

One of the most feared terror attack scenarios involves the detonation high above ground of a nuclear weapon that generates a powerful electromagnetic shock wave or pulse (EMP) that immediately renders useless power circuits, computers, even automobiles.

Now, it’s likely that such an EMP weapon can be made small enough for a single person to carry and operate – and it’s most lethal against commercial aircraft cruising in for a landing, according to a Fox News report.

Yael Shahar, director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel, and her colleagues have analyzed electromagnetic weapons in development or used by military forces worldwide, and have discovered that there is low-cost equipment available online that can be just as deadly.

“These will become more of a threat as the electromagnetic weapons technology matures,” she told New Scientist, the source for the Fox report.

EMPs can be created in a number of ways, Shahar explained to the New Scientist – none is particularly high-tech.

A device called a “Marx generator” can quickly channel an extremely high electrical charge stored in dozens of capacitors into an antenna, which then releases a powerful radio pulse.

Such machines are currently available in the marketplace. The peaceful use: testing power lines for their resistance to lightning strikes.

Another even less technical alternative is called a flux compression device. It uses a small explosive to push an armature through an electrified coil that is generating a magnetic field. This compresses the magnetic field, producing a destructive EMP.

Shahar opined that the biggest bang for the buck for a terrorist using one or the other device is bringing aircraft out of the sky by literally frying the circuits and black boxes that keep its complex systems and avionics operating.

“Once it is known that aircraft are vulnerable to particular types of disruption, it isn’t too much of a leap to build a device that can produce that sort of disruption,” Israeli counter-terrorism expert Yael Shahar told New Scientist magazine. “And much of this could be built from off-the-shelf components or dual-use technologies.”

Shahar recently told delegates at the annual Directed Energy Weapons conference in London that basic EMP generators can be inexpensively built from descriptions available online, using components found in devices such as digital cameras.

“These are technologically unchallenging to build and most of the information necessary is available,” she said.

Ironically, as high tech works to make the individual terrorist more deadly, modern aircraft are becoming more vulnerable.

Composites now being used in the construction of aircraft provide poor shielding against electromagnetic radiation compared with metal, Shahar said.

“What is needed is extensive shielding of electronic components and the vast amount of cables running down the length of the aircraft,” she warned.

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Deadly electromagnetic pulse weapons are available that can turn a single terrorist into an engine of destruction – and they are only a click of the mouse away.One of the most feared terror attack scenarios involves the detonation high above ground of a nuclear weapon that...
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2009-31-09
 

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