It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
An EMP attack damages all unprotected electronic equipment within the blast's "line of sight" (the EMP's "footprint" on the earth's surface). The size of the footprint is determined by the altitude of the explosion. The higher the altitude, the greater the land area affected. A Scud-type ballistic missile launched from a vessel in U.S. coastal waters and detonated at an altitude of 95 miles could degrade electronic systems across one-quarter of the United States. A more powerful missile launched from North Korea could probably deliver a warhead 300 miles above America--enough to degrade the electronic systems across the entire continental United States. Furthermore, a nuclear weapon with only a low explosive yield could be designed to generate a strong EMP. In fact, crude weapons with low yields, such as those used against Japan in World War II, would have ample power to generate an EMP over the entire continental United States.
Non-nuclear EMP Weapons The United States most likely has EMP weapons in its arsenal, but it's not clear in what form. Much of the United States' EMP research has involved high power microwaves (HPMs). Reporters have widely speculated that they do exist and that such weapons could be used in a war with Iraq. Most likely, the United States' HPM e-bombs aren't really bombs at all. They're probably more like super powerful microwave ovens that can generate a concentrated beam of microwave energy. One possibility is the HPM device would be mounted to a cruise missile, disrupting ground targets from above. This technology is advanced and expensive and so would be inaccessible to military forces without considerable resources. But that's only one piece of the e-bomb story. Using inexpensive supplies and rudimentary engineering knowledge, a terrorist organization could easily construct a dangerous e-bomb device. In late September 2001, Popular Mechanics published an article outlining this possibility. The article focused on flux compression generator bombs (FCGs), which date back to the 1950s. This sort of e-bomb has a fairly simple, potentially inexpensive design, illustrated below. (This conceptual bomb design comes from this report written by Carlo Kopp, a defense analyst. The design concept has been widely available to the public for some time. Nobody would be able to construct a functioning e-bomb from this description alone).
Such a high frequency pulse can pass through faraday cages used to ground electromagnetic energy from lightening. However, even if the cages were effective they would still be easily bypassed since any wires running from the devices within them would act as antennae and conduct the high transient voltage. There is also a so called 'late-time EMP effect.' This refers to the observations of EMPs creating localized magnetic fields within electrical systems they pass through that soon collapse sending huge surges through power and telecommunication infrastructure. This sparks a chain reaction in which all devices attached to these lines will be rendered useless by the massive surge. Such FCGs can be made with basic electrical materials, plastic explosives and readily available machine tools and can be smaller than a suitcase. The fact that this weapon is so startlingly simple to construct and can potentially be so devastating to our society coupled with the terrorist attacks of September 11th constitutes a wake up call to our national defense planners. Terrorists have proven that they are serious, now we must prove ourselves up to the task of planning for every contingency, including the dreaded scenario of a weapon that could propel our society back two-hundred years to an age devoid of electricity.