Electronic Weapons: January 14, 2001


Throughout the 1990s, information came out of Russia that a weapon had been developed that could generate a short range EMP (electromagnetic pulse) similar to that created by nuclear explosions. EMP will destroy most microprocessors. In other words, all computers within the range of the EMP bomb would be ruined. Microprocessors are found everywhere these days; in automobiles, appliances, industrial equipment, medical devices and many other devices. Military microprocessors are often shielded to protect them against EMP, but the shielding is not thoroughly tested and even some military equipment will probably be disabled by an EMP attack. Recently, a British military research team announced that they had duplicated the rumored Russian device and produced an EMP bomb that can fit in a 155mm artillery shell, small rockets or bombs. Such a device is inexpensive and could be used to destroy civilian electronics that might be useful to nearby enemy troops. What is particularly worrisome about this new development is that, in the hands of terrorists, it could do a new kind of damage. While not killing people directly, the destruction of all electronics within an urban area could cause casualties and much economic loss. 


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