Electronic Weapons: August 19, 2002


If there's another war with Iraq expect, as in 1991, new electronic warfare weapons to be used. Last time around, U.S. warplanes dropped carbon fibers on Iraqi power lines, shorting out the transmission system. This trick has long been known, and proposed for wartime use. But until someone actually uses it in combat, it's considered "theoretical." Next time around, expect to see the long discussed (but never yet used) EMP (electromagnetic pulse) bombs. EMP is produced by nuclear explosions, and destroys or damages most electronics that get hit by the pulse. For years, there has been much talk about non-nuclear EMP weapons. Even Iraqi defenses depend on massive use of electronics. An attack with EMP weapons would have a devastating effect, especially on communications. And that fits with another much touted strategy; replacing Saddam's mass media. The U.S. Special Forces are well equipped and trained to do that, with flying radio and TV stations. While many radio and TV sets will be zapped by the EMP weapons, the range of non-nuclear EMP attack is not great (a large nuclear weapon, detonated many miles up, would produce an EMP that would destroy electronics for hundreds of miles in every direction). So most Iraqis would still have working television and radio. The EMP attack strategy might leave the electrical system working, so everyone can hear and view the "new" news. 


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