Strategic Analysis:
A Monthly Journal of the IDSA

EMP Weapons
By C.N. Ghosh *


During the Kosovo war a Tass wire story reported for the first time about the presence of a new weapon being tested by USA. The weapon could have been fabricated at Los Alamos and this was the most secret weapon of USA designed to destroy radio electronic equipment. The Russians also went on to report that these bombs were dropped by B-2 stealth bombers to generate electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Pentagon officials however denied its use and reported that there was no intention to use any such weapon in the Yugoslav conflict. But the assertion that the U.S had indeed used such a weapon was made during the first few days of the Kosovo conflict which came direct from the Russian Defence Minister who told the Tass reporters about its use. He went on record to inform that USA was using Yugoslavia as a test range for its latest secret means of destruction. 1 USA while categorically rejecting the report went to state that they wanted to keep the capabilities of the weapon under complete secrecy and would use the same in a future campaign against a sophisticated foe. Existence of the weapon had not been denied.

It seems that the weapon can be delivered by cruise missile or by any other stand off platform and can be exploded within yards of a target. The explosion would be followed by generation of high power microwaves that can disable electronic circuitry in computers and communication equipment. This EMP could erase software and computers. David Fulghum 2 while reporting on this unique bomb stated that on a clear day the effect could be felt in an area as large as a football field. Col John Alexander, has written in his book "Future Wars" 3 about the use of High Power Microwave (HPM) or electromagnetic pulse weapons (EMPs) and carbon graphite fiber or ribbon bombs. While the effectiveness of carbon-graphite bombs are now well established from raids on Baghdad and Belgrade, the HPM weapons are less known. Alexander thinks that the concept of EMP bomb may be comparable to a lightning strike in the vicinity of computers or other electronic equipment.

The electro magnetic pulse effect was first observed during the early testing of high altitude airburst nuclear weapons. EMP is caused by the rapid release of gamma radiation from the nuclear explosion. The release of these particles at the speed of light will produce regions of positive and negative charges as atmospheric molecules are stripped of their electrons. These charges will propagate through the air at the speed of light and can have significant effects on all electromagnetic signals within line of sight of the nuclear detonation. The electromagnetic pulse is in fact an electromagnetic shock wave. The EMP energy produces such a storm of electromagnetic field that it produces short lived transient voltage of thousands of volts (Kilovolts) on exposed electrical conductors like wire or conductive tracks on printed circuits boards where exposed.

One significant factor in EMP effect is the amount of coverage desired. The area of exposure depends upon the size of the yield. It was also observed that high altitude Electro Magnetic Pulse became the highest concern as the entire electromagnetic spectrum could get affected. It was also found out that high altitude burst could produce large amplitude EMP field over thousands of kilometers. Peak energy fields can reach levels of 50 kilovolts per meter. The peak levels can be reached very quickly and will have large broadband frequency coverage extending from Direct Current to 100 Mhz frequencies. 4

The covert testing of the weapon in an active field of Yugoslavia has demonstrated that the EMP bomb is round the corner 5 and that the US will not hesitate to use the same in any future conflict considering its negligible collateral damage making capability. The idea would be to immobilise the enemy before destroying him Development of this type of weapon has more or less become a necessity because of the changed environment. Information flow to be strengthened for own side and for the enemy it has to be stopped. This could be the cleanest bomb, a clean match winner. No doubt this is a future requirement.

While carrying out spectrum comparison it was determined that EMP spreads in a waveform. Diagrammatic representation of the same is shown in Fig 1.

This waveform has been broken down into three segments. 6 The first is called early time EMP, and is the most devastating segment of the waveform; maximum levels of energy are produced in a very short time. Because of the intensity of the energy and the speed of the waveform, unprotected circuitry will be damaged or destroyed. On the other hand Late Time will occur at about one second after generation and can last up to 1000 seconds. During late time EMP low levels of energy are induced into the varying magnetic fields in the earth, which results in electrical fields being determined by the earth's surface resistance. This energy can pose a threat to long landlines such as telephone, power and submarine cables.

Conventional Electronic Bombs

Timothy L. Thomas while discussing the desperate situation of the technologically antiquated nations stated that,

"Rapid technological change presents a specific new challenge to strategists: the requirement to master the emerging forms and functions of information technologies. New developments in managing information can create suspicion*#150;even-paranoia–among nations that lack the enabling technologies we take for granted. Technologically antiquated nations, those without as well as those whose infrastructure are outdated, could be more inclined to preemptive behaviour when they perceive a threat than would those states more attuned to the capabilities and limitations of the latest technologies." 7

In many areas, technology for designing an electronic bomb is quite mature. And it is estimated by Western experts that the fabrication of an effective FCG can be accomplished with basic electrical materials common plastic explosives such as C-4 or semitex and readily available machine tools such as lathes and suitable mandrels for forming coil that would be more than sufficient to build a bomb. And it is also estimated that the cost of building one bomb could be as low as $1000-$2000.

Key technologies, which could be used in the near future, are discussed here:

It was in the late fifties that the first demonstration of FCG was carried out at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and this could be the most matured technology today. The current produced by a large FCG could be 100 times greater than that produced by a lightning stroke. FCG device can generate energy to the tune of greater than mega joules in 100th of microsecond and produce peak power level exceeding tens of mega-amperes.

A cylindrical copper tube forms the armature of typical coaxial FCG as indicated above. The tube is filled with a high energy explosive. The armature is surrounded by a helical heavy copper coil, which forms the FCG stator. The stator winding can be split into segments with wires bifurcating at the boundaries of the segments. This could optimise the electromagnetic inductance of the armature coil. A structural jacket made of concrete or Fibreglasses hardened with Epoxy can be used to prevent the FCG from disintegrating at an early stage due to intense magnetic force. The weight of the bomb, supply of start current, and matching the FCG to the intended load carrier are the major technical issues of a FCG. When the start current peaks, the explosive is initiated, and explosion takes place in the armature, distorting it into a conical shape. Start current is isolated and stops the current inside. The magnetic field gets compressed, reducing the inductance of the start winding. This will produce a very high current pulse, which peaks before final disintegration of the device. FCG is generally constrained to the frequency band below 1 MHz. Many targets will be beyond this range of frequencies and as such will be difficult to attack. 8


The Vircators could be the source of High Power Microwave source. Other devices that could produce HPM are Klystron, Magnetron, Reflex triode etc. However, the best suited for the bomb would be the Vircators or Virtual Cathode-ray Oscillators. Vircator is capable of producing a very powerful single pulse of radiation and can operate over a relatively broad band of microwave frequencies. The basic idea of Vircator is to accelerate a high current electron beam against a mesh anode. Many electrons will pass through the anode and form a bubble of space charge behind the anode. If the space charge region is placed into a resonant cavity, which is tuned, correctly, very high power can be generated and microwave power can be extracted. Power level achieved by Vircator experiments ranges from 170 Kilo watts to 40 Giga watts with frequencies covering over the decimetric and centimetric bands. Output pulse duration of a Vircator is likely to be in the order of microseconds and is limited by anode melting.

Two types of Vircators are known to be used. Axial Vircator and Transverse Vircator. 9

Magneto-Hydrodynamic Generators

Explosive and propellant driven Magneto Hydrodynamic Generators is not too well known a technology. There is every indication that the range of development of this system is at a very elementary stage and thus precludes its being used in weapons systems. Best advantage of MHD generators are their compactness (liquid-metal MHD generators) and the absence of rotary parts. MHD can be used very easily as a compact source of electrical energy and that would be attractive for military applications.

Effect of Radiation on Electronic Devices

Present generation electronic devices like diodes, transistors, gate arrays and ICs are based on pure silicon slices. Their electrical properties depend upon the regularity and uniformity of the basic silicon crystal lattices. The initial total damage from Neutron radiation is proportional to the neutron influence, but there is a subsequent annealing process during which there is some degree of recovery. This apart, the damage could be permanent. Also it may be made clear here that it makes no difference whether the device is working equipment or kept on the shelf for future use. However, the annealing process will be longer in such cases.

Commercial computer equipment is particularly vulnerable to EMP effects. It is basically built with high-density Metal Oxide Semiconductors (MOS) devices, which are very sensitive to exposure to high voltage transients. MOS can sustain permanent damage with very little energy. Any voltage typically in excess of tens of Volts can produce an effect termed gate breakdown, 10 which effectively destroys the device. Even if the pulse is not powerful enough to produce thermal damage, the power supply in the equipment will readily supply enough energy to complete the destructive process. Wounded devices may still function but their reliability will be seriously impaired. Similarly computers used in data processing systems, communications systems, displays, industrial control applications, including road and rail signaling in the advanced nations and those embedded in military equipment, such as signal processors, electronic flight control and digital engine control system are all potentially vulnerable to EMP effects. Degradation effect on few of the key elements employed in electromagnetic equipments are given below:-

Lethality of Electromagnetic Weapons

The calculation of electromagnetic field strength achievable at a given radius for a given device is not difficult. But determining a kill probability for given targets under such conditions is complex and difficult because target types are very diverse in their design, frequency range and electromagnetic hardness. Moreover, certain types of equipments, which have been shielded against electromagnetic discharges of higher order, will withstand orders of magnitude greater than standard commercial equipments. 11 Microwave can couple more easily than weapons of lower frequency range. That is why microwave weapons are more lethal.

Front Door Coupling. Let us take an example of an antenna subsystem, which is designed to couple power in and out of the equipment. This is the route for the power flow from the EMP weapon to enter the system and cause damage.

Backdoor Coupling. Similarly backdoor coupling takes place when electromagnetic field from a weapon, produces spikes of large transient currents. These could be produced either by low frequency weapons or by electrical standing waves produced by a HPM (High Power Microwave) weapon. Equipment connected to electrical routings experience high voltage spikes and damage exposed semiconductors. As a result this could damage power supplies and communication systems and if the spike flows inside an equipment, damage could occur to other devices inside. 12

The damage causing scenario could be serious because low frequency weapon will couple into wiring infrastructure of the telephone lines, networking cables and power lines which generally follow streets, building contours and corridors. Deployment of the weapon will be of no consequence, because at least few segments of the wiring will be oriented in such a way that good coupling could take place by the emission of the electromagnetic energy. Electrical equipment like consumer electronic goods when exposed to low frequency and high voltage spikes similar to a lighting strike sustains extensive damage. Similar spikes would definitely damage computers and communication equipments (voltage as low as 50 V can inflict substantial damage to computers). The safe operating envelopes of some semiconductor devices are discussed here for easier understanding of the lethality of the electromagnetic shock waves. Breakdown voltage rating for Silicon high frequency bipolar transistors vary between 15 V and 65 V. These transistors are used in communication equipment. An essential component of computer is Dynamic Random Access Memories (DRAM), which are vulnerable to 7 Volts. Rating of CMOS logic is between 7 to 15 Volts. And microprocessors of the computer are vulnerable over a voltage of 3 to 5 V. 13

The above parameters clearly indicate that many of our equipments operating within the above voltage range can become an easy prey for the EMP weapons whether high yield or low yield. No doubt the damage will be extensive. Microwave weapon can substantially be more lethal than the low frequency weapon because it can bypass many protection devices built by the manufacturers. Scientists are busy finding out the vulnerability vs. quantum yield of a weapon. Target diversity, individual electrical characteristics of the equipments' wiring and infrastructure around the target makes it difficult to predict the lethality of a weapon.

However, design factor should take into consideration the maximum lethality of an EMP bomb. To do that, it would be necessary to maximise power output and increase duration of radiation of the weapon. Enhancement of the known techniques like Flux Compressions Generation and Vircator effectiveness of High Power Microwave (HPM) may be the answer.

For efficient back door coupling it would be necessary to determine a known lethal voltage level, and that could be the basis to find the required field strength to generate voltage. The lethal radius for given weapons configuration can be calculated once the field strength is known.

A resultant several kilo volts meters is expected within the footprint of 400 to 500 mtrs of a Vircator type device producing 10 GW. 5 GHz HPM. Target to device distance can be calculated easily and can be safely estimated that the device can be exploded at a fairly longer distance from the target. This would be quite contrary to any conventional weapon.

Another design characteristic would be to maximise efficiency by making sure that the emitted energy is not wasted at the cost of lethality. This could be the researchers nightmare.

Targets for Electromagnetic Bombs

For a military man it will not be an easy task to identify targets for the electromagnetic bombs because of the complexity of the entire system. It may be easy to identify certain targets but to match the bomb capability with the target may not be that easy. Buildings, housing various government departments and installations areas are easy to locate and target because of their geographical locations and can be attacked provided the aircraft can penetrate to weapon release point and height. Present generation smart bomb technology can be used to deliver E weapons to derive best possible results. 14 Only the aim is to disable communication related equipments and the computers.

Mobile and camouflaged targets like air defence radars, missile complexes, mobile troops, naval vessels over the high seas are good examples of the target system that can be attacked with E weapons. Location of such targets could be carried out through the use of Electronic Support Measures (ESM)) and Emitter Locating System (ELS). Once located, the slow moving targets could be attacked easily because they could not get away easily from the footprint of the bomb.

Army targets would be difficult to detect because those would be heavily camouflaged and do not radiate overtly. These could only be detected by tracking the Unintentional Emission (UE) also known as Van Eck radiation. Due to poor shielding electronic emissions leak out from various equipments used at the war front. Detection and demodulation of the same could give adequate target intelligence to attack them with electromagnetic weapons with impunity. There is no doubt that smart emitter locator could locate the emissions from computer networking cables, superheterodine receivers etc. Deployment of UAVs over the suspected target areas could reap rich dividends.

Delivery of E Bombs

Like any other conventional warhead, the E Bomb would also have some given mass determined by the density of the internal hardware. Typically an E Bomb will comprise an electromagnetic device, an electrical energy converter and an energy storage device for sustaining the electromagnetic device charge after separation from the delivery platform. A radar altimeter fuse could provide fusing for air burst bombs. The fraction of the warhead could be 15 per cent and the rest of the space could be utilised for the electromagnetic device and other supporting elements. Like conventional warheads, E Bomb could be fitted on a Cruise missile, Conventional missiles or on an aircraft. 15

Surface-to-Surface Missile. E Bomb placed on a Surface-to-Surface missile would comprise an electromagnetic device, an electrical converter and an on board storage device such as a battery. The battery is drained as the weapon is pumped. Missile on board fusing system would detonate the electromagnetic device.

Cruise Missiles. Arming a cruise missile with E Bomb may well impose certain restrictions. The size of the priming current and its battery may be the root cause of these limitations. In a cruise missile the bomb could be tied to the navigation system, in an anti shipping missile the radar seeker and in air-to-air missile, the proximity fusing system. The warhead to launch-mass of the weapon should be 15 per cent to 30 per cent.

Delivery by Conventional Aircraft. Delivery of these types of weapons by aircraft could score over other systems. Because the launch aircraft having its own power system could prime the weapon optimally without any loss of power. In such a situation the bombs capacitor bank can be charged by the launch aircraft en route to target, and after release, a much smaller on-board power supply could be used to maintain the charge in the priming source for weapon initiation. Every aircraft capable of delivering a standard weapon should be in apposition to deliver an E Bomb. And should the weapon ballistic criteria remain the same, then no software changes for the delivering aircraft would be required. Stand off delivery of these kinds of weapons could be the only answer because of its lethal radius. Cruise missile or delivery by any other type of missiles would pose no problems. Delivery of E Bombs from conventional aircraft would require careful planning lest the aircraft becomes victim of the bomb itself. Fire and forget type guidance system would be suitable for all types of air delivery weapons like air-to-air, air to surface and glide bombs. The launch aircraft must gain sufficient separation of several miles before the bomb detonates. This could be carried out either by toss bombing and delivering a glide bomb. The recently built GPS satellite navigation kits for conventional bombs and glide bombs has increased the accuracy of the weapon to a large extent. Therefore toss bombing both from low level and high level could be the answer. Importance of glide bombs could be manifold. The glide bomb can be released from outside the effective radius of target air defences, minimising the risk for attacking aircraft. Large stand off distance means that the aircraft can remain well clear of the bomb's effects.

The bomb's autopilot may be programmed to shape the terminal trajectory of the weapon, in a way that the target may be engaged from the most suitable altitude and aspect. 16

Search and Kill by UAV. An easy electrical kill could be achieved by using UAVs armed with emission locator and E weapons. Because of their inherent advantages an UAV could loiter over a target for a considerable period of time away from the base and once the emission is located distinctly, it could launch its on-board weapon.

Limitations of Electromagnetic Bomb

Like all other weapon systems, E weapons also suffer from their inherent limitations. Despite being an area weapon, the E weapons will demand better accuracy for their delivery. Because, it would be important to illuminate the target area completely to achieve best results. Therefore though it is not difficult to calculate the area of its effectiveness yet it suffers from better CEP syndrome. Electromagnetic field strength achievable at a certain distance from the application would be the prime consideration. Vacuum tube equipment based on Thermionic technology is extremely resilient to the electromagnetic weapons effect than solid-state technology. Therefore a weapon designed to destroy solid state computers and receivers, may cause little damage to a thermionic device. Early 1960 Soviet equipment falls in this category. This leads to another limitation of the E Bombs which pertains to difficulties of kill assessment. The enemy may fool the attacker by switching off the emitters prior to an imminent attack and once the attack is over they may switch on the emitters for its usual functioning. Absence of emissions therefore would not indicate the success or failure of the attack. Non-radiating electronic equipment would also get affected due to an electronic attack but success of the same could not be assessed correctly also. Van Eck radiation detectors would be the only answer.

Atmosphere plays a leading role towards the ultimate effectiveness of the E weapons. Lethal coverage of an E Bomb will depend on atmospheric propagation. The decays in lethal effect with increasing distance within the atmosphere will be greater due to higher frequencies and significant absorption peaks due to existing water vapour and oxygen. These will reduce the effect of HPM weapons to smaller radii than are ideally achievable in the K and L band. 17

Electrical collateral damage could be another limiting factor of this type of equipment. However no international treaty or legislation has been brought forward to curb its application.

Defence against EM Bombs

In any future war our defence forces are going to face some kind of EM weapons and it would be necessary to pay attention towards the defence against this emerging threat of the future. No air defence system could provide total safety from air attacks and therefore those systems that could suffer probable damage by such a new menace must be electro magnetically hardened.

Faraday Caging could be one method of this hardening process. Cage the entire system in an electrically conductive atmosphere to avoid being exposed to electromagnetic radiation. This can prevent the electromagnetic field from gaining access to the protected equipment. But that would be next to impossible and certain amount of damage cannot be ruled out because the equipment would have to breathe and maintain contact with the outside world. This will give it away and its protective shield. To ensure better security the lines entering the equipment could be fed through an arrester. 18

Limitation of Hardening

There is no doubt that system hardening is an absolute must to avoid damage to any part of the electromagnetic equipment. But hardening has its limitations. Conceptually the E weapon menace is at its infancy, as such no one really knows whether equipment can be hardened totally or some part will remain vulnerable to electromagnetic attack. And if one part gets affected, what would happen to the equipment as a whole? Considering this futuristic threat, the newer generation equipments could be hardened to an extent at certain cost. But it would be next to impossible to harden the older equipment. The damage is sustained mainly by the wounding semi-conductors and as such the equipment does not get destroyed completely and may keep on working intermittently, which would be more disturbing than a complete breakdown.

Electronic Combat Operation

Command of the electromagnetic spectrum should be achieved as quickly as possible to carry out subsequent operations with other conventional weapons. Futuristic wars would face this menace. Unless effective steps are being taken, a nation could become a hapless victim. Hard and soft kills would render the command control ineffective, the economic system could suffer most grievously, subject to the lethality of the weapon and the hardness of the target. An attack may not render the entire equipment totally useless but certain affected parts will make it partially serviceable which could be dangerous. 19

The massed application of electromagnetic bombs in the opening phase of an electronic battle will allow much faster attainment of command of the electromagnetic spectrum, as it will inflict attrition upon electronic assets at a much faster rate than any conventional means.

Electronic combat operation using E Bombs involves attacking radars, command control system, and air defence weapon systems. These need to be attacked first to paralyse the enemy decision-making ability or to ingress into its OODA loop. The idea would be to achieve hard or soft electrical kill at the very opening round, followed by conventional attack with a fair amount of impunity. Presently the ARMs (Anti Radiation Missiles) are used for Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) operation which are not only expensive, but have many other disadvantages, like single weapon for a single target etc. But E bomb can be targeted against multiple targets, achieving much better results than the ARMs. That is why Calo Kopp in his article "The Electronic Bomb" has termed the E Bombs as "Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction (WEMD)". He has gone to the extent of explaining the horrendous effect of such weapons system not known to mankind so far. 20

However, as the bomb is not very well known, and only scrappy evidence of its possible use in Kosovo war has emerged it does not allow us to judge its actual capability. Exact calculation of force multiplication could not be carried out. But it is also true that an aircraft carrying a collection of E. weapons capable of disabling a SAM site with collocated acquisition and fire control radar will have equal potential of many ARMs fired from multiple aircraft supported by the integral jammer force.

As such, it is seen that massed application of electromagnetic weapons for Electronic Combat operations will provide a much faster rate of attrition against hostile electronic assets, in comparison to any other conventional means. E weapons would allow much greater concentration of force.

Post Gulf war strategic air campaigns are bound to follow the Warden model, which identifies five centers of gravity in a nation's war fighting capability. IW model can be formulated in similar fashion, that is to disable an opponent's fundamental information processing infrastructure as part of the Strategic IW campaign. But this is yet to happen anywhere so far. Warden model is explained in Fig. 4.

The innermost ring in Warden's model comprises the leadership network, which comprises government bureaucrats, and civilian and military C3 systems. The effectiveness of attack on this inner ring will produce devastating results by disconnecting the decision-making authority from the rest of the war making machines. Of particular interest in this context of strategic air attack is that while E weapons are lethal to electronics they have little or nil effect on the human beings. Such peculiarity is not inherent to other weapon systems either conventional or nuclear. The cost of hardening existing computer networks is prohibitive, as is the cost of replacement with hardened equipment. Therefore, the use of E weapons against government facilities should be extremely successful. 21

Electronic Counter Air Operations

Airfields are geographically located areas; housing innumerable electronic systems both on base and inside an aircraft and would be ideal targets for E weapons. Attacking airfields with E weapons could make it totally useless to mount both offensive and defensive operations. Attack on electromagnetic spectrum will disable communication, air traffic control facilities, navigational aids, air defence set up and other operational support equipment. The aircraft on ground will also become easy targets because the modern generation aircraft rely heavily on electronic equipment. It would be impossible to safeguard them considering the immensity of the problems about their hardening. Conventional blast hardening will not be effective. Electrical power cabling and communications cabling will carry electromagnetic induced transients into most buildings. Therefore Electronic Counter Air Attack could give the initial advantage of having a Favourable Air Situation .

Electronic Battlefield Air Interdiction

Win or lose situation in any future ground battle will depend upon the mobility and communication capability of any army. The armoured regiments are heavily packed with electronic and communication equipment supported by air defence weapon systems. Coordination and control of them will be the essence of the battle. An attack on the armoured concentration will render this force rather harmless. The effectiveness of their fire control and communication systems would be destroyed. The best tactics would be to attack the armoured formation with E Bombs and create confusion. Follow up with an attack with conventional weapons.

Electronic Air Defence Operations

Interception is the buzzword in the air defence parlance. You use whatever is available in your arsenal, missiles, interceptors or guns to deter the strike force to deliver its weapons in own territory. These platforms are used to counter enemy raids one by one. But it is beyond the comprehension of the air defence community that an area weapon like E weapon can be used against an incoming raid. The E weapons can be effectively used in all air defence operations provided the weapon can be made sufficiently compact to be loaded on an air-to-air missile. The enemy formation depending heavily on electronic on-board equipment could face a most novel challenge by losing their eyes and ears to carry out any successful attack and return safely to their bases. Their Nav attack radar could misread, mission computers could malfunction, digital engine control computers could fail, and communication equipment and electronic flight controls could become useless thus making the aircraft totally vulnerable to attack by defending fighters or conventional missiles. 22

Electronic Maritime Air Operations

Surface combatants are fitted with a substantial quantity of electronic equipment like any other modern military machine. An electromagnetic weapon can render a surface force totally ineffective if caught within its lethal radius. Thus making it vulnerable to any type of conventional attack.

Information Age Terrorism

India is constantly fighting terrorism and insurgency since independence and there is no doubt that our Armed Forces are the most experienced in the entire world in this respect. The Indian Armed Forces are yet to counter this novel and silent way to spread terrorism. To counter these 21st century insurgents, Indian defence forces should include information age terrorism in their doctrine and tactics before the troops in the field are surprised by these novel enemies. 23

Indian Electronic Weapons

What is new about IW is the centrality given to these previously important, but secondary aspects of warfare. Also we cannot deny that IT in the civilian economy and national infrastructure has overshadowed the military in many ways. Disruption of the electromagnetic spectrum would not be tolerated by the Western powers at any cost. And they are bound to bring international legislation to curb the desire of the aspiring nations to develop such capabilities to manufacture EMP weapons. These weapons do not cause any collateral damage and are not very well known to the world community. But it can cause havoc to many systems belonging to the nations riding high on the IT tigers. The Westerners call it 'collateral electrical damage'. The imagination of many a nation is yet to catch up with this awesome capability and understand its legal and other effects. India termed as hegemonistic among her neighbours and long harbouring the idea of force multipliers, could take a quantum jump by developing these weapons and perfecting their delivery system. Indian technology is mature enough to address this not too difficult a challenge. Force multipliers have been the dream of the military planners of India for many years based on AWACs and air-to-air refueling system. But procurement and system integration would take many years. IL76 (Moss) based AWAC is a far cry from the actual Indian need. Whereas, a force multiplier or a clean winner could be the EMP weapons. 24 No matter what Pakistan could procure or develop in future will not be in a position to match this capability. Air Defence system built around EMP weapons could nullify many a Chinese threat of the future. The situation, 'advantage India', cannot be lost. It is the right moment for India to develop, build and stockpile these cleanest of bombs before the 'collateral electrical damage' becomes a rallying point for the highly vulnerable affluent nations and the next political battle is being fought by India at Geneva following the epic CTBT skirmish.

To begin with the Indian military must take the lead, harden their electronic equipment and provide thrust for development of EMP weapons. Infrastructures of DRDO could be pressed into action. The IITs and the Indian scientific community could be asked to participate. India does not lack technology, it only lacks scientific leadership. There is no doubt that the current technological base of India can produce EMP weapons and perfect their delivery system, before our neighbours wake up.

The revelation by Russia about US involvement of testing EMP Weapons in Yugoslavia could be a pointer towards another kind of war that mankind will experience in future. Helplessness against this type of attack can well be imagined only. The information hungry world depending upon real time communication; internet revolution, electronics based entertainment industry, electronic sophistications of military equipment, over dependence on electromagnetic spectrum, would make the nations more and more vulnerable to EMP weapons. Hardening of equipments could create certain amount of safety but to build up all round credible defence against an EMP attack would be impossible. As the EMP weapons do not cause any damage to population or visible property of a nation the attack may go unnoticed by the world. Victim nations will understand and pay for any misadventure. That is why we would not mind calling these deadly clean bombs as the best force multipliers of the future. 25


Note *: Senior Fellow, IDSA Back.

Note 1: David A. Fulghum: "Microwave Weapons Await a Future War" Aviation Week & Space Technology, (Washington: June 7, 1996) p.30. Back.

Note 2: Ibid., p.30. Back.

Note 3: Ibid. Back.

Note 4: Space Operations Orientation Course Handbook, Third Edition (Colorado 80909-6822: Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, August 1, 1993). Back.

Note 5: Richard J Harknett. "Information Warfare and Deterrence", Parameters, Autumn 1996, "destruction of societal connectivity need not be limited to specific attacks on personal electronic or institutional records. It may be conducted on a broader scale, where electronic connectivity is indiscriminately targeted. But little expertise is required to manufacture enough of a magnetic field in a directed fashion so as to put at risk the circuitry of an individual computer or computer system. Weapons such as HERF (high energy radio frequency) guns and EMP/T (electromagnetic pulse transformer) bombs are not only conceivable but may already have been built, p. 96. Back.

Note 6: Space Operations Orientation Course Handbook, Third Edition,(Colorado 80909-6822: Air Force Space Command, Peterson AFB, August 1 1993). Back.

Note 7: Timothy L Thomas, "Deterring Information Warfare: A New Strategic Challenge", Parameter, Winter 1996-97, pp. 81-91. Back.

Note 8: NHQ Publication Information Warfare, vol. 6, 2000 Back.

Note 9: Carlo Kopp "The Electromagnetic Bomb–a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction" <>, pp. 10-12. Back.

Note 10: Ibid., p. 12. Back.

Note 11: Ibid. p. 14. Back.

Note 12: NHQ Publication, Information Warfare, vol. 6, 2000. Back.

Note 13: Kopp, n. 9. Back.

Note 14: John Tirman, "Collision of a particle from a Neutral Particle Beam Weapon with an air molecule". The Fallacy of Star Wars by Union of Concerned Scientists (New York: Vintage Books, 1983) Chapter 5 p.11. Back.

Note 15: Joseph Goldblat and David Cox, "Nuclear Weapon Tests Prohibition or Limitation" (Sipri: Oxford University Press, 1988) pp. 240-241. Back.

Note 16: Robert Jastrow, How to Make Nuclear Weapons Obsolete, (London: Sidgwick and Jackson 1985) pp. 89-99. Back.

Note 17: Kopp, n. 9. Back.

Note 18: Peter D Feaver, "Blowback.:Information Warfare and the Dynamics of Coercion." Military Review, September-November 1998, pp. 26-30. Back.

Note 19: Carlo Kopp "The Electromagnetic Bomb–a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction" <> Back.

Note 20: Laos Nicholas K. "Information Warfare and Low Intensity Operations." Perceptions, July-August 1999, pp. 174-195. Back.

Note 21: Clemmons Byard, "Cyber warfare: Ways, Warriors and Weapons of Mass Destruction", Military Review, September-October 1999, pp. 35-45 Back.

Note 22: Arquilla, John et al "Information Age Terrorism", Current History, April 2000, pp. 179-185. Back.

Note 23: Ellis R Evan, "Organisational Learning dominance: the emerging key to success", Comparative Strategy, April-June 1999, pp. 191-202. Back.

Note 24: Roger C. Molander, Andrew S. Riddle, and Peter A Wilson. "Strategic Information Warfare: A New Face of Warfare", Parameter, Autumn 1996, pp. 81-92. Back.

Note 25: <> Back.