Electronic Weapons: December 19, 2002


If there's a war in Iraq, expect to see some new and unusual electronic warfare weapons. For decades, the military has been working on creating workable High Powered Microwave (or HPM) weapons. It's long been demonstrated that directing high powered microwave energy at microchip based electronics (as is found in most motor vehicles, computers and electronic equipment) can destroy enough of the components to render the equipment useless. The big problem with HPM weapons has always been their large energy requirements. But new technology has provided solutions, and several years ago a portable HPM weapon that would fry the electronics in vehicles was demonstrated. Range of this weapon is only a few hundred yards. But for helicopters, or commandos on the ground, this is far enough. The U.S. Marine Corps publicly released information on a crowd control HPM device that look like a truck mounted radar. But the radar "dish" sent out microwave energy tuned to penetrate about half a millimeter of human skin and make the plentiful nerves there send an intense pain message to the brain. No physical damage is done, but the victim tends to lose any interest in what he is doing, and flee the area. The device was originally designed as an easier way to clear enemy troops out of bunkers or other hidden positions. It can still do that as well. Just the thing for dealing with snipers in downtown Baghdad. 


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