Washington, March 14 (ANI): The U.S. Army is developing an 'e-bomb' that would use electromagnetic radiation to destroy and disable electronic systems and their operators in one blast.
The key is a magnet that blows up and spontaneously demagnetizes, releasing energy as a pulse of power.
Previous e-bomb designs were based on explosively driven magnetic flux compression generators. They used a series of tightly wound, current-carrying metal coils that are rapidly compressed by an explosion.
The new technology is much more compact.
It's based on research showing that some magnets will spontaneously demagnetize when hit by a powerful enough shock wave, releasing a pulse of energy, in the process.
Having proved the principle by blowing up neodymium magnets (like the ones in headphones), the Army's Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (Amrdec) have moved on to lead zirconate titanate magnets.
The current state of the art is described as a completely explosive ultracompact high-voltage nanosecond pulse-generating system, occupying about one-fifth of a cubic inch.
But, there are engineering challenges that need to be overcome for this new weapon to work, like, scientists would need an antenna that can fit inside a warhead, but is big enough to do the job.
The problem is, the size is dictated by the properties of the electromagnetic pulse to be generated.
To overcome the problem, Allen Stults of Amrdec is using the jet of ionized plasma produced by the explosion as an antenna.
By tinkering with the chemical mixture in shaped charge warheads, Stults is creating a "plasma antenna" that will direct an electromagnetic pulse at the target.
Like a lightsaber blade, the plasma antenna is a glowing tube that appears from nowhere - and it should be quite deadly to electronics.
The multifunction warhead technology is being applied to several types of weapon, including TOW missiles, 70mm helicopter rockets and the bomblets dispensed by MLRS artillery.
The new munitions will have two crucial advantages over previous e-bombs: they are small, and should not cause electronic "friendly fire" casualties hundreds of meters away.
Because they still have the same blast, fragmentation and armor-piercing properties as they did, commanders can be confident that they're not wasting space carrying rounds that might have no effect. (ANI)