Skip to comments.Coming Soon to Baghdad – The Preview of the E-Bomb
Posted on 02/16/2003 9:37:48 PM PST by knak
It will begin with a sharp crack, like the sound of a bolt of lightning hitting its target. In an instant, Baghdad and its environs will go dark. Even though turned off, fluorescent lights and television sets will glow and the smell of ozone mixed with the odor of smoldering plastic will seep from outlet covers as electric wires arc and telephone lines melt. Palm Pilots will feel warm to the touch, their batteries overloaded. Computers, and every bit of data on them, will be history.
Suddenly there will be a deadly quiet as internal-combustion engines shut down never to be restarted. No Iraqis will suffer any harm they will simply be thrust back in time to an era where electricity and the electronics it made possible were non-existent.
Saddam Hussein will sit in his silent darkened bunker suddenly stifling as all air intake systems shut down. With communication with his armed forces arrayed around the capital city no longer operating, he and his top generals will be rendered as mute as the troops in the field themselves. Only by carrier pigeon could be hope to contact his forces.
His missiles inoperative, his tanks without engines, his jet fighters downed, his radar installations useless, Saddam no longer has the instruments of modern warfare at his beck and call. He has been e-bombed back to the stone ages.
Thats the scenario for the opening of the invasion of Iraq if intelligence reports are correct. The age of the e-bomb has arrived and modern warfare will never be the same.
It all began in 1925 with the atomic research of physicist Arthur H. Compton who demonstrated that firing a stream of highly energetic photons into atoms that have a low atomic number causes them to eject a stream of electrons. Physics students know this phenomenon as the Compton Effect. It became a key tool in unlocking the secrets of the atom, to the development of the e-bomb.
Leap forward to the high altitude detonation of a hydrogen bomb over Siberia by the Soviets back in the 1960s which had an unexpected effect. It knocked out communications systems for hundreds of miles below the blast.
While testing hydrogen bombs in outer space, hundreds of miles above the planet, American scientists also discovered that each atomic blast created a pulse of electromagnetic energy similar to conventional radio-made microwaves, but with energy so great that they erased magnetic memories and melted the microscopic junctions in transistors on the Earth below. These were veritable tidal waves of energy, sufficient to cripple sensitive microelectronics but too weak to be seen, heard, or felt by human beings.
During one U.S. test, in July 1962, a hydrogen bomb was detonated approximately 650 miles in space, roughly where today's space shuttles orbit. Simultaneously, an incredible 2100 miles to the northeast, street lights went dark and burglar alarms began ringing on the Hawaiian islands. The reason was an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) produced by the blast.
According to a report by intelligence expert Major Scott W. Merkle, then a student assigned to the Air Command and General Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama, a declassified U.S. military report showed that the explosion of a bomb about one megaton in size (the exact size remains classified) eight hundred miles over Omaha, Nebraska, would shower the continental United States, southern Canada, and northern Mexico with an EMP capable of disabling virtually every computerized circuit in its potential damaging consequences of such an EMP attack in 1982, when he wrote in an obscure engineering journal
Dependence on Computers
Today there is almost universal dependence on electronic computers. They are used by first-graders as well as research engineers. Industry, communications, financial records, are all at stake here. In the event of heavy EMP radiation, I suspect it would be easier to enumerate the apparatus that would continue to function than the apparatus that would stop.
Due to this reaction, in 1963 the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty to counter the considerable threat posed by EMPs, wrote Major Merkle. Since then, that threat has grown at a fantastic rate, fueled by the rapid progress made in compacting ever more EMP-sensitive transistors onto the computer chips upon which modern electronics rely.
Testifying before the House Committee on National Security, Military Research and Development Subcommittee, on July 16th, 1997 Dr Lowell Wood of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory described the effects of EMP.
Electromagnetic pulses, EMP, generated by high-altitude nuclear explosions have riveted the attention of the military nuclear tactical community for three-and-a-half decades since the first comparatively modest one very unexpectedly turned off the lights over a few million square miles in the mid-Pacific. This EMP also shut down radio stations, turned off cars, burned out telephone systems, and wreaked other mischief throughout the Hawaiian Islands nearly 1,000 miles distant from ground zero.
The potential for even a single high-altitude explosion of a more deliberate character to impose continental-scale devastation of much of the equipment of modern civilization and of modern warfare soon became clear. EMP became a technological substrate for the black humor: Suppose they gave a war and nobody came.
It was EMP-imposed wreckage, at least as much as that due to blast, fire, and fallout, which sobered detail studies of the post-nuclear-attack recovery process. When essentially nothing electrical or electronic could be relied upon to work, even in rural areas far from the blast, it appeared surpassingly difficult to bootstrap American national recovery, and post-attack America in these studies remained stuck in the very early 20th century until electrical equipment and electronic components begin to trickle into a Jeffersonian America from abroad.
EMP he said, can induce large voltages and currents in power lines, communication cables, radio towers, and other long conductors serving a facility. Some other notable collectors of EMP include railroad tracks, large antennas, pipes, cables, wires in buildings, and metal fencing. Although materials underground are partially shielded by the ground, they are still collectors, and these collectors deliver the EMP energy to some larger facility. This produces surges that can destroy the connected device, such as, power generators or long distance telephone systems. An EMP could destroy many services needed to survive a war.
Many systems needed are controlled by a semiconductor in some way. Failure of semi-conductive chips could destroy industrial processes, railway networks, power and phone systems, and access to water supplies. Semiconductor devices fail when they encounter an EMP because of the local heating that occurs.
When a semi-conductive device absorbs the EMP energy, it displaces the resulting heat that is produced relatively slowly when compared to the time scale of the EMP. Because the heat is not dissipated quickly, the semiconductor can quickly heat up to temperatures near the melting point of the material. Soon the device will short and fail. This type of failure is call thermal second-breakdown failure.(16)
It is also important to realize how vulnerable the military is to EMP. "Military systems often use the most sophisticated and therefore most vulnerable, electronics available, and many of the systems that must operate during a nuclear war cannot tolerate the temporary disturbances that EMP may induce."(17) Furthermore, many military duties require information to be communicated over long distances. This type of communication requires external antennas, which are extremely vulnerable to EMP.
Dr. Wood was dealing with a so-called HEMP (High Altitude EMP) activated by a hydrogen bomb which was by then outlawed and considered unthinkable.
But even then the cat was out of the bag and the race began to develop a non-nuclear method weapon capable of delivering an EMP punch. If current reports are accurate the U.S. now has such a weapon the so-called e-bomb, and is getting ready to demonstrate its power to Saddam Hussein.
According to Associated Press Technology writer Jim Krane, the U.S. may fire a cruise missile tipped with a high-powered electromagnetic-pulse emitter - a so-called e-bomb - "which fries the electronics without killing the people," said Andrew Koch of Jane's Information Group.
Wrote Krane, The weapon's massive power surge is supposed to travel through antennas or power cords to wreck any unshielded electronic appliance - civilian or military - within a few hundred yards, according to studies cited by GlobalSecurity.org, a research organization.
Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Edward Epstein quoted Roger McCarthy, chairman of Exponent Failure Analysis Associates in Menlo Park, a firm deeply involved in developing futuristic weaponry for the Pentagon as declaring: "Kabammy! A huge electronic wave comes along, and sends out a few thousand volts. Wham! Your cell phone or your computer dies,"
Epstein explains that the weapons pack an incredible, invisible wallop, hundreds of times the electrical current in a lightning bolt. That directed energy, in principle not unlike the power used more benignly in laser pointers or supermarket scanners, opens a whole new area of warfare, one that for now gives the United States a leg up on potential opponents.
In an age in which militaries rely on sophisticated electronics for everything from starting tanks and planes to using phones to direct operations, such a weapon could be devastating.
Experts say that an e-bomb could also disarm Saddams chemical and biological weapons and disable underground military sites.
"If I was Saddam Hussein, I'd make a major investment in old motorcycles and go back to the era of World War II and use motorcyclists as messengers," retired Army Lt. Col. Piers Wood of GlobalSecurity.org, a group that tracks new weapons systems told Epstein.
"These weapons are really about taking the energy of high explosives and converting the wallop into electromagnetic energy to disrupt electronic devices," McCarthy said, adding that a good-sized version of the weapon would produce thousands of volts and 10 million amps in a microsecond. That's hundred of times the energy generated by lightning.
With the e-bomb an apparent reality, a warning issued by Rep. Curt Weldon during a hearing of the House Committee on National Security, Military Research and Development Subcommittee, on July 16th, 1997 raised a nightmarish possibility.
Said Weldon. If I am the commander of North Korea and I have one nuclear weapon and that weapon is in the range of 1 to 10 kilotons, which I assume it is, and if I have the capability of a Nodong or Taepodong 2, system which I assume can reach an altitude of 250 miles quite easily, General Marshat least that is the testimony that has been give to meand I want to do something to hurt the United States, I think the weapon of choice is to launch that device in the air and wipe out our smart capability and then dare us to respond, because we haven't killed anyone, we haven't hurt any buildings, and we, being a moral Nation, what is our President going to do? Is he going to set off a nuclear strike against North Korea, when they have not killed one person in this country, but it would devastate our entire infrastructure? That is what concerns me.
No FR to chat it up, however.
You'll have to find something other than FreeRepublic to occupy your time, as well, for it would knock out Fresno. Is that enough to make you thankful?
Rumsfeld to saddam: "Hey saddam! Read between the lines!"
9-2. Introduction. Critical facilities are very vulnerable to HEMP damage or upset and, in most cases, these facilities have equipment that processes classified information that could be compromised. A single nuclear weapon detonated 300 kilometers above the United States can blanket the entire CONUS area with HEMP effects. HEMP effects are especially damaging to integrated circuits and other sensitive low-voltage/current electronic devices on which facilities rely. It is critical to national security that these facilities incorporate HEMP and TEMPEST protection measures to prevent compromise of information and disastrous damage and upset to the electronics equipment. Generally, there are two concepts to be considered as a methodology for HEMP and TEMPEST protection and a zoning plan which may be applied to either methodology as required ...