When the average American thinks about national security threats, terrorism, nuclear war and Russia come to mind. These are big league dangers that generate global fear. But, in reality, terror cells aren’t capable of establishing a North American “caliphate.” Defense systems would likely destroy nuclear missiles before reaching American soil. The Russians have neither the resources nor the wherewithal to invade Alaska, nevermind the lower 48. The truest danger could come from a small, wealthy nation with the determination to launch a full-blown drone attack carrying EMPs.
EMPs, or electromagnetic pulse weapons, have the capability of disrupting electronic devices at all levels. From computers to automobiles to the grid itself, an all-out EMP attack carried by drones would bring America to its knees. Food transportation would cease. Defense systems would falter. Planes would be grounded and water would stop coming out of your faucet. Some military assessments estimate that a total cyber attack on the nation’s infrastructure would result in 270 million Americans deaths in the first 24 months. Other says 90 percent would perish. Those numbers are arrived at without an enemy firing a single bullet.
A limited drone/EMP attack on military-related targets could freeze missiles and their silos. Sideline tanks, fighter jets, warships and submarines would sink to the ocean floor. A long-range EMP cannon would cripple an intercepting missile or fighter plane.
There are a wide range of electromagnetic weapons that are either fully operational or in the development stage. Each poses a significant danger to national security.
E-Bomb: A low-level electromagnetic bomb is designed to temporarily disable, disrupt and corrupt electronic systems and data. A high-level weapon can permanently disable machines in its pulse radius.
LRAD: Long Range Acoustic Devices, or “sonic weapons,” are designed for non-lethal human crowd control. They disrupt, damage or destroy the eardrum, resulting in excruciating pain and disorientation. LRADs may also affect the eyes, causing blurred vision or blindness and can be ramped up with enough energy to kill.
Dazzler: Like LRADs, these direct-energy weapons are designed to temporarily blind and disorient people. They use radiation and infrared light. Those that cause permanent blindness are internationally banned.
PEP: Pulsed Energy Projectiles fire an infrared pulse followed by plasma and a combination of shock, electromagnetic waves and sound result in temporary paralysis.
Plasma Devices: Plasma is basically an excited form of matter that can be directed in a narrow beam at an object or enemy. To date, this technology has only produced short streams used in industrial cutting. A viable military-grade plasma weapon remains elusive.
EMPs, The Weapon of Choice: Electromagnetic pulse weapons are the gold standard in this sector. They tend to be relative small and lightweight at under 50 pounds and the size of a suitcase. They can be used by police to disable cars in high speed chases or loaded on to a drone for a targeted airstrike. The U.S. military is reportedly experimenting with EMPs in long-range missile strikes to take down enemy defense systems prior to unleashing conventional weapons. It may come as a surprise, but just about any do-it-yourselfer can build a home-made EMP cannon. And, that availability makes this technology dangerous.
In terms of EMP development and strikes, the United States is considered behind the curve. The country’s power grid remains vulnerable and the military trails nations such as Russia in the development of strategic electromagnetic weaponry. However, any nation with enough financial resources could build a massive drone force and arm them with EMP cannons.