The Electromagnetic Bomb - a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction
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The Electromagnetic Bomb - a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction

Carlo Kopp†
Defence Analyst
Melbourne, Australia
Carlo.Kopp@aus.net

ABSTRACT
High Power Electromagnetic Pulse generation techniques and High Power
Microwave technology have matured to the point where practical E-bombs (Electromagnetic
bombs) are becoming technically feasible, with new applications in both Strategic
and Tactical Information Warfare. The development of conventional E-bomb devices
allows their use in non-nuclear confrontations. This paper discusses aspects of the technology
base, weapon delivery techniques and proposes a doctrinal foundation for the use
of such devices in warhead and bomb applications.
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The Electromagnetic Bomb - a Weapon of Electrical Mass Destruction


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ABSTRACT
High Power Electromagnetic Pulse generation techniques and High Power
Microwave technology have matured to the point where practical E-bombs (Electromagnetic
bombs) are becoming technically feasible, with new applications in both Strategic
and Tactical Information Warfare. The development of conventional E-bomb devices
allows their use in non-nuclear confrontations. This paper discusses aspects of the technology
base, weapon delivery techniques and proposes a doctrinal foundation for the use
of such devices in warhead and bomb applications.

1. Introduction
The prosecution of a successful Information Warfare (IW) campaign against an industrialised or post
industrial opponent will require a suitable set of tools. As demonstrated in the Desert Storm air campaign,
air power has proven to be a most effective means of inhibiting the functions of an opponent’s vital information
processing infrastructure. This is because air power allows concurrent or parallel engagement of a
large number of targets over geographically significant areas [SZAFRANSKI95].
While Desert Storm demonstrated that the application of air power was the most practical means of
crushing an opponent’s information processing and transmission nodes, the need to physically destroy these
with guided munitions absorbed a substantial proportion of available air assets in the early phase of the air
campaign. Indeed, the aircraft capable of delivery laser guided bombs were largely occupied with this very
target set during the first nights of the air battle.
The efficient execution of an IW campaign against a modern industrial or post-industrial opponent
will require the use of specialised tools designed to destroy information systems. Electromagnetic bombs
built for this purpose can provide, where delivered by suitable means, a very effective tool for this purpose.

2. The EMP Effect
The ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP) effect [1] was first observed during the early testing of high altitude
airburst nuclear weapons [GLASSTONE64]. The effect is characterised by the production of a very
short (hundreds of nanoseconds) but intense electromagnetic pulse, which propagates away from its source
† Born in Perth, Western Australia, the author graduated with first class honours in Electrical Engineering in
1984, from the University of Western Australia. In 1996 he completed an MSc in Computer Science and is currently
working on a PhD in the same discipline, at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He has over a
decade of diverse industry experience, including the design of high speed communications equipment, optical
fibre receivers and transmitters, communications equipment including embedded code, Unix computer workstation
motherboards, graphics adaptors and chassis. More recently, he has consulted in Unix systems programming,
performance engineering and system administration. Actively publishing as a defence analyst in Australia’s
leading aviation trade journal, Australian Aviation, since 1980, he has become a locally recognised
authority on the application of modern military technology to operations and strategy. His work on electronic
combat doctrine, electromagnetic weapons doctrine, laser remote sensing and signature reduction has been published
by the Royal Australian Air Force’s Air Power Studies Centre since 1992, and he has previously contributed
to CADRE Air Chronicles.



3. The Technology Base for Conventional Electromagnetic Bombs
The technology base which may be applied to the design of electromagnetic bombs is both diverse,
and in many areas quite mature. Key technologies which are extant in the area are explosively pumped Flux
1 Electromagnetic pulse or EMP device is a generic term applied to any device, nuclear or conventional, which
is capable of generating a very intense but short electromagnetic field transient. For weapons applications, this
transient must be sufficiently intense to produce electromagnetic power densities which are lethal to electronic
and electrical equipment. Electromagnetic weapons are electromagnetic devices specifically designed as
weapons. Whilst the terms ’conventional EMP weapon’ and ’High Power Microwave or HPM weapon’ have
been used interchangeably in trade journals (see FULGHUM93), this paper will distinguish between microwave
band and low frequency weapons. The term ’electromagnetic bomb’ or ’E-bomb’ will be used to describe both
microwave and low frequency non-nuclear bombs. This paper will not address the use of nuclear EMP, or alternate
uses of HPM technology. HPM technology has a broad range of potential applications in EW, radar and
directed energy weapons (DEW). The general conclusions of this paper in the areas of infrastructure vulnerability
and hardening are also true for microwave directed energy weapons. This paper extends the scope of earlier
work by the author on this subject [KOPP93].
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