tisdag 4 maj 2010

Electromagnetic pulse weapons and the rise of asymmetric warfare



I write the column E-Bombs, Pros ’n Cons in TCS Daily on 25 March 2003.
Electromagnetic pulse weapons and the rise of asymmetric warfare
The war in Iraq has begun, and it is certain that the various military forces will use the opportunity to test new weapons on the battlefield. The previous Gulf War saw the first major deployment of smart bombs. The war against the Taliban regime was the big breakthrough for unmanned flying drones. It is likely that the new war will see some of the first major uses of electromagnetic pulse (EMP)-weapons, also called e-bombs, which disable or destroy electronics in the area they target.

The US military (the British army has also been testing some prototypes) developed the e-bomb to avoid what happened in the last Gulf War, when a weapon struck an Iraqi military communications bunker that was also used as a shelter for civilians. The e-bomb, in this instance, could be used to obliterate the electronic installations on the surface, without hurting anybody in the bunker underground.

The international community will certainly carefully observe how e-bombs are deployed in the war against Iraq. Their best use would be against deeply buried and heavily fortified targets and not on vulnerable civilian institutions.

While the e-bomb might represent an advance in terms of military technology and non-lethal warfare, it might also turn out to have an unintended side effect. It could become the weapon of choice of terrorists in the future.
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