back to article DARPA develops zap-bomb electropulse countermeasures

US military boffins are preparing highly sophisticated technical defences against the dreaded electromagnetic pulse bomb, a weapon which has long been anticipated but never successfully built. We know about the counter-electropulse defence technology because the company which will develop it - HRL Labs of Malibu, California - …

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Coat

@ "(To be fair, DARPA might be more worried about EMPs from nukes.)"

Well didn't the USA test their EMP armed cruise missiles during the last Gulf war? Now they know they work, the penny has finally dropped that they can be used against the USA! Doah!

My one has ARP* on the back!

* To non UK readers, it was used in WW2 by Air Raid Precaution's staff.

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Alert

How is this new?

This has potentially been a problem for years with radar and comms gear being vulnerable to nuclear generated EMP.

The only difference with the 'pulse bomb' would be that the power would be much lower, and probably not spread over such a range of frequencies.

One assumes that existing countermeasures (technical or *cough* having some spare bits ready on the shelf *cough*) will still be adequate to deal with any new threats.

Of course civil equipment is less likely to be in a position to deal with this than military, though I guess that civil stuff would be covered by a similar design philosophy to that used in at least some military hardware: the scenario is extremely unlikely to happen, and if it does there would be other effects anyway, so it's not even worth bothering to introduce countermeasures.

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Silver badge
Thumb Up

A surge suppressor for EM/RF devices.

Not a bad concept, really. Isolate the part of the works that *must* be exposed to radiation from the rest of the works (which would of course have its own shielding). Sorta like an inline surge suppressor. If things really hit the fan, only the exposed part should go, leaving the heart of the outfit "blind" but otherwise intact.

Rail DARPA all you like, but this could be considered an honest step forward in safeguarding important electronics.

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Black Helicopters

Cheaper solution

A spare radio in a tin box in case the first one gets fried. Can I have my $500M development budget now please?

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Silver badge
Boffin

Simple solution?

Bring back the thermionic valve I say!

Oh and radar T/R cells have been doing this sort of task for years, maybe not to quite the vicious amounts imagined, but they do work.

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Silver badge

Re: How is this new?

Some of the parts that would get fried in an EMP blast (from conventional *or* nuclear sources) are probably going to be among the toughest to replace--especially on the field. It's not like outfits will carry spare microprocessors and circuit boards lying around the place. It's spare tech just *asking* to be stolen by spies. So, like a walled city that still needs to do business, you put guards to the gates. That is what this technology does, along with electrical surge suppressors and the like.

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Flame

google laser 9/11

"the scenario is extremely unlikely to happen"

see 9/11

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Boffin

has happened

Recently, man (dutch) refused bankloan, walks into bank later - joins queue - *puts attache case down* all bank PC's 'stop'. Confusion/reboots/BSOD. Man goes home!

Six months later, security expert analysing CCTV frame by frame notices the *attache case*. man visited at home, many capacitors and other items of terror, is arrested. Maybe urban-myth, maybe current amateur SOTA cross-over from .mil technology?

Then there was the...

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Anonymous Coward

so to protect my server room....

....is all that I need some foil on the walls, ceiling and floor, a surge protector on the mains (my UPS should do this) and to receive internet only via a fibre link?

And maybe some surge protection on the LAN patch panel/switch (I'm not going to bother protecting the user PCs, its probably easier to replace them post incident, even allowing for supply issues). I know the rest of the city may be doing its Rice Crispies impression (snap, crackle & pop), but assuming the utilities come back up at some stage then at least we could keep some IT functions going, or have I missed something important (lets leave out the staff problems)

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Jobs Horns

re: 9/11!

9/11 was an inside job, a supreme scare tactic intended to lubricate the passing of many un-just laws, so as to strip away most all civil rights.

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Boffin

Big, fat, hairly (electric) eel!

So DARPA has just discovered opto-isolation? How much did it cost them to find out about one of the simplest and long-standing principles in modern electronics?

Sometimes I'm glad it's not UK tax-payers forking out for DARPA ... yet ...

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Anonymous Coward

BITCH-SLAP?

I love it...

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Joke

Acronym

I know this is a bit of a stretch, but if someone tried to knock out my electronics I know I'd want a big "Faraday Umbilical Countermeasures for Kilowatt Yield Offensive Undesirable" ready to go.

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Black Helicopters

guess they never read the RS or Maplins Catalogs

So the geniuses have found out about optocouplers, serious high end tech there(!) i imagine that must be a real skunkworks sort of component to obtain, oh wait

http://www.maplin.co.uk/search.aspx?MenuNo=12418&FromMenu=y&doy=28m8

so what they are saying is put receiver out in open, put signal processor in sheilded box, have a screened cable run between the 2, and use idiot proof (XLR, BNC etc.) plugs

massive slow hand clap for DARPA there

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Silver badge
Alien

Uh... excuse me... <raises hand>

What about the ole' strategically-placed special-gas ultra-fast reacting spark-gap that will-cause-a-dead-short to all incoming enegy trick? Before you poo-poo the concept, don't forget that many run-of-the-mill comm system are designed to survive a direct fricken hit from a rather large lightning bolt. And the protection devices that do they job are small and rather cute. I'm very surprised that it's considered to be an unsolved problem.

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Unoriginal

Yeah, that's really nothing new is it?

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Happy

Nuvistors

I think I still have a couple knocking around in the attic - offers?

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Pirate

It's like with that Tom Cruise Mars movie. Inside-out microwave, man.

"....is all that I need some foil on the walls, ceiling and floor, a surge protector on the mains (my UPS should do this) and to receive internet only via a fibre link?"

Err... no

According to http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/nuke/emp/toc.htm

you need a "layered sheet-steel wall built with two thin layers of steel separated by plywood or other core material". However calculations are hairy. Just add more steel, get rid of the ventilation shafts and cut those cooper power lines.

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Bronze badge

Radar already does this.

You have an antenna system which has to punch out a lot of power, and then switch to being a very sensitive receiver.

Trouble is, you don't know when you are going to get an EMP attack. The receiver is overwhelmingiy likely to be vulnerable, listening, absorbing all the incoming energy it can.

So this has to be doing something clever. And it might be a new trick for military radar. A faster switch from trasmit to receive means a shorter minimum range.

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Black Helicopters

Ha

you only know see what they want you to see

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Coat

Speakign of acronyms

Countermeasures Utilizing Nine Terrawatt Flaming Lightning Armour Package System?

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Coat

According to Acronymizer.org

...the which quasi-URL I just pulled outa' me Nether Regions:

Um, "Countermeasures Arresting Most Electrical Labs' Totally Obscene Electomagnetick /Scheiss/ " might do...

Because, Doctor Evilord, the hired help just always borrow the labs' portable hard drives on weekends "to do our telework from home on the Interpipes", and just leave them lying all about the trailer-park... At least the ones they don't punt on eBray...

E-e-e-a-w-w-w. (snort)

I'll get me coat now. 'Twas the acronym that diddit...

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Thumb Up

Acronym?

How about

Big Anti-Terrorist SHIny Thing

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Anonymous Coward

Pulse weapons around for a while

From an old article on www.globalsecurity.org: "The US Navy reportedly used a new class of highly secret, non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse warheads during the opening hours of the Persian Gulf War to disrupt and destroy Iraqi electronics systems. The warheads converted the energy of a conventional explosion into a pulse of radio energy."

In a statement to a Congressional Hearing on Intelligence and Security in June 1997, it was implied that the Russians were way ahead in this field with weapons already in production for some time.

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working EMP device....

I believe the tv show "Future Weapons" showed an EMP Device disabling a vehicle last year...

Just so ya know.

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Thumb Up

Good for...

Satellites etc. during Solar Flares?

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