Feeds

Pentagon: Electromagnetic pulse bombs from 2012

Elusive, movie style tech-Yeti finally spotted

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A presentation given by a US Air Force official may have - temporarily, at least - laid to rest one of the wilder and wackier secret superweapon conspiracy theories of recent times.

The superweapon in question is the dreaded "E-bomb", aka "Electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP)" "High Power Microwave (HPM)" and so on, depending on the exact details.

Most people are familiar with the fact that a nuclear weapon gives off a powerful electromagnetic pulse when detonated. Just as an ordinary-strength RF transmission induces tiny electrical flows in receiving antennae, a nuclear bomb's much more intense EMP can cause damaging spikes in exposed electronic circuitry, potentially knackering it.

Ever since the effect was noted, various people have speculated that it would be interesting to use a suitable nuke, not to leave one's enemy atomised and/or glowing in the dark, but rather to fry all his electronics.

One way of doing so might be to let off the nuke just outside the atmosphere above the location to be EMPed. The eponymous Russkie space zappers in the Bond flick Goldeneye were supposed to be some kind of E-bomb, for instance.

Not many people have nukes at all, though. Even fewer have so many of these expensive things that they would expend them handing out a relatively mild electronic love-tap as opposed to actually killing and destroying their enemies.

However, a lot of people think you could generate usefully-powerful electro-zap effects using means short of nukes. Aviation Week reporter David Fulghum, a veteran electronic-warfare analyst, has long prophesied the advent of the microwave weapon. Just last January, he wrote that: "High-power microwave weapons may be on the verge of a high-speed turn toward the practical."

Highly-qualified* Australian aerospace zealot Dr Carlo Kopp has asserted that a poor man's HPM/EMP bomb driven by ordinary explosives would be a doddle to knock together.

The relative simplicity of the [e-bomb bits] suggests that any nation with even a 1940s technology base, once in possession of engineering drawings and specifications for such weapons, could manufacture them.

As an example, the fabrication of an effective [explosives-driven flux generator] can be accomplished with basic electrical materials, common plastic explosives such as C-4 or Semtex, and readily available machine tools... communications infrastructure in the West will remain a 'soft' electromagnetic target in the forseeable future... With the former CIS suffering significant economic difficulties, the possibility of CIS designed microwave and pulse power technology leaking out to Third World nations or terrorist organisations should not be discounted. The threat of electromagnetic bomb proliferation is very real.

Holy crap - the goddamn terrorists can slap one of these together, and knock out all of western civilisation Die Hard 4 stylee.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.