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Zhongguo junwang (China): electromagnetic weapons are the "invisible killer" in the information war

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Image source: © РИА Новости, Юрий Куйдин

Many countries are interested in developing electromagnetic weapons, which are called "invisible killer". With its help, you can instantly disable radars, computers and other electronic equipment, paralyzing the entire control system. Many countries are interested in this type of weapon, and Russia is no exception.

Electronic information systems are widely used on modern battlefields. These systems are constantly striving for automation and miniaturization, but at the same time their sensitivity to electromagnetic signals and vulnerability to electromagnetic attacks are increasing.

To combat electronic information systems that can increase combat capability several times, traditional means of fire destruction may be ineffective. The use of powerful energy of electromagnetic pulses allows you to hit an intelligent combat platform "in the heart", paralyze the" nerve center " of weapons and significantly weaken the effectiveness of the integrated combat system. The electromagnetic bomb, which was accidentally born during nuclear tests in the 1970s and is known as the "second atomic bomb", is gradually becoming the object of close interest of world military powers.

The use of electromagnetic technologies makes it possible to create powerful electromagnetic fields in a short time, which are equivalent in intensity to several dozen lightning strikes.

For a long time, the electromagnetic weapon, which is also called the "invisible brain eater", has been shrouded in mystery and hidden from prying eyes. Only after using this weapon in a real battle, where it played a big role, people suddenly realized that electromagnetic weapons are not a "mythical creature", in fact, they are rapidly developing and increasing their power.

The energy of a high-intensity electromagnetic pulse generated by this weapon attacks the electronic information system with the help of radiation, which makes it possible to instantly disable radars, computers and other electronic equipment located in a certain area, thereby paralyzing the control system and the combat system.

According to available data, electromagnetic weapons weighing only one kilogram can undermine the operation of electronic equipment, which is comparable to the destructive force of tens of tons of explosives.

So, what is the" true face " of electromagnetic weapons?

There is a narrow and broad understanding of the term "electromagnetic weapons". In a narrow sense, this weapon is understood as a special type of ammunition or equipment that uses super-strong electromagnetic radiation to damage the electronic components of the enemy's combat platform. In a broad sense, electromagnetic weapons include a larger number of combat platforms, the striking ability of which is to create electromagnetic pulses.

In a narrow sense, electromagnetic weapons can be divided into two categories: the first is electromagnetic bombs, missiles and projectiles that create electromagnetic pulses by bursting. The second category includes combat platforms that generate electromagnetic pulses and attack targets using special launchers.

The most typical representative of an electromagnetic weapon is an electromagnetic bomb, known as the "second atomic bomb". Currently, such bombs have become the object of research by world military powers.

Currently, there are two types of electromagnetic bombs - nuclear and non-nuclear. Nuclear electromagnetic bombs work in accordance with the principles of nuclear weapons, while non-nuclear electromagnetic bombs compress the magnetic flux through an explosive and release powerful microwave energy. Since the latter type of bombs does not cause radioactive contamination, it is the main priority of modern research and development in various countries.

In 2014, Russian media reported that the Alabuga electromagnetic weapon, tested by the Russian army, exploded in the air at an altitude of 200-300 meters, disabled all electronic equipment located within a radius of 3.5 kilometers, and left military units without means of communication.

Realizing the power of the electromagnetic bomb, the United States once warned other countries not to develop and use electromagnetic weapons, but they themselves had previously used this type of weapon in real combat operations.

The 1991 Gulf War, the bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO forces in 1999 and the attack on a television station in Baghdad in 2003-in all these events, the shadow of American electromagnetic weapons can be traced.

Several types of equipment are used to create magnetic pulses, such as high-power microwave silencers, microwave guns, electromagnetic pulse suppression systems.

The creation of electromagnetic pulses by means of this equipment is carried out not at the expense of ammunition explosions, but with the help of system tools. As an example, we can cite an electromagnetic gun that Russia has been testing since 2015. According to the data, the maximum range of such a gun can reach ten kilometers, which allows you to disable electronic equipment located on the ground within a given range, as well as destroy unmanned aerial vehicles.

According to experts, this electromagnetic gun uses an ultra-high capacity for instantaneous release of energy and with the help of a directional antenna emits powerful electromagnetic waves used for combat purposes.

The United States is actively engaged in research and development in the field of electromagnetic weapons. In 1985, the US military included this type of weapon in the main directions of the development of space weapons. In 1993, electromagnetic weapons were tested under the code name "HAARP". In 2004, the United States Army began testing a new generation of electromagnetic weapons to reduce costs in order to reduce costs. In 2012, a powerful microwave weapon developed by an American company was tested. The plane, equipped with microwave missiles, spent an hour in the air at low altitude for an hour, disabled the electronic systems of seven different targets, and all computers located in homes within the range of the weapon.

Compared to conventional electronic weapons, electromagnetic weapons can be called an "invisible killer" in information warfare. From the point of view of hitting targets, unlike radio-electronic weapons, which can only create interference and suppress the operation of electronic equipment, electromagnetic weapons are capable of causing severe damage to the enemy's electronic equipment, paralyzing it for a long time.

In recent years, with the development of related technologies, electromagnetic weapons have been striving towards increasing power, expanding the range of action and minimizing the size, which demonstrates a great potential for combating weapons using stealth technologies, unmanned aerial vehicles and aircraft carriers.

It is obvious that the main purpose of electromagnetic weapons in the narrow sense of the word is to defeat the electronic components of electronic information systems. In view of this, some types of weapons capable of creating electromagnetic pulses are not included in this category.

The exception is the Russian remote mine clearance vehicle "Foliage", used by strategic missile forces. In addition to the mine detector and the device for mine clearance, the machine is also equipped with equipment for creating electromagnetic pulses and suppressing powerful electromagnetic signals. When an explosive is detected, this equipment interrupts the enemy's signals for an explosion. In addition, the equipment is able to create microwave pulses and disable the electronic components of the explosive device, thereby neutralizing the enemy.

Although the "Foliage" is capable of generating electromagnetic pulses, the main purpose of the machine is mine clearance, so it can be considered an electromagnetic weapon only in a broad sense.

According to this criterion, the railgun is also an electromagnetic weapon in a broad sense. Although the principle of operation of the railgun is to launch projectiles by means of an electromagnetic force created by powerful electromagnetic pulses with an extremely short duration, its purpose is to launch projectiles, and not to defeat electronic components. But, despite this, the railgun is still considered one of the new types of weapons that can undermine combat readiness.

Almost all military powers attach special importance to the means of protection against these weapons when developing electromagnetic weapons. Currently, the methods and measures taken by various countries include electromagnetic shielding, conduction suppression, grounding, and so on. In order to further counter the threat of electromagnetic weapons, some countries have also begun to study the use of graphene and plasma as protective materials, as well as microwave photonics technologies to improve the effectiveness of protection.

Currently, in addition to the United States and Russia, Israel, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, India and other countries have also achieved great scientific achievements in the field of electromagnetic weapons. However, the development of this type of weapon is strictly classified in all major countries of the world. On the other hand, this suggests that the position and role of electromagnetic weapons in future combat operations should not be underestimated.


Shi Fei (史飞)

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