back to article Pentagon in $75m electropulse blast-ray programme

Despite decades of disappointment, plucky Pentagon boffinry chiefs continue to seek a working electromagnetic pulse weapon - the dreaded, circuitry-frying "e-bomb". The US Air Force Research Laboratory is now initiating a five-year, $75m programme intended to finally get the field of electropulse combat kickstarted. Wired …


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  1. Chris Morrison

    It works!

    Im sure I saw it ground a plane at Heathrow the other day!

  2. Louis Cowan


    Lewis, never stop writing. You make me want to change the pronounciation of my own name to your geekier, less mafia-like equivalent.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    US announces megadeath (to electronics) ray gun, around the same time as a plane drops out of the sky at Heathrow...I spy a test bed....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Dell working on a similar plan?

  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Incestuous contracts are invariably sub-prime affairs?

    "Foreign owned firms are advised they will not be allowed to participate. There will be no opportunities for foreign owned sub-contractors as well." .....

    Ah well, that keeps it simple and I can't be bothered enquiring just exactly what they would mean by "foreign owned"...... and paying peanuts in todays climate of megabillions "lost/salted away" somewhere, is hardly a prime incentive anyway.

  6. ian

    Surely not

    How can this be a serious programme? $15M/year is nothing- it must be less than the pentagon accounting roundoff error! Obviously no hardware is expected to come of this.

  7. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    A system to attack "centres of gravity"! Wow!

    Presumably, after knocking the centre of gravity from an enemy tank it (the tank) will rendered totally weightless and can be easily apprehended, turned upside down (to shake out the crew) and towed away like a baloon by the infantry.

    Alternatively, with its centre of gravity blown to smithereens the tank may become extremely unstable and prone to spontaneous uncontrolable tumbling and turning, which will incapacitate the crew and hopefully detonate the ammunition stores.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please, please?

    I want to see what happens when someone mishandles one of these in mainland USA.

  9. Ed

    I want one

    So I can turn off the damn car stereos of the idiots who drive around at 3AM going *thump* *thump* *boom*

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Yawn - counter-measures are trivial

    A big-ass corner-reflector, or a field of smaller ones, will reflect all the energy back along the exact opposite track. Unless the platform is moving at a considerable fraction of C, it'll still be there. With precision 90-degree angles, a perfect back-at-ya bulls-eye is guaranteed. A useless suicide mission.

    They won't even think about including an initial low-power probe pulse to confirm the target's radar cross section, and the overall return-loss, until Rev. C. And this - inexplicably - in spite of me reminding Them to do so (just now).

    How come They monitor all communications but They don't pay any attention to free advice? Okay.. let's get their attention... "Dirty Bomb" (Hey! Hi. Yeah, please review the paragraphs above). There, I just saved the taxpayers $142 million.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This time they'll do it

    This is all about an old tesla dream but he didn't have enough technology to harnass the energy turbulanance that always generated to much inertia to achieving his goal.

    with my maths they can

  12. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Last time we tried this we got radar!

    Can't remember the dates (around 1934?) but MI6 was getting some pretty bizarre reports that the nasty old Nazis were working on a "raygun" that could deactivate aircraft engines at a distance. Worried that all their (antiquated) bombers wouldn't get the chance to be shot to ribbons, they asked British boffins if they could build one. Whilst they didn't waste time on the raygun idea, the boffins did use the opportunity to do some research into radio echoes from aircraft, producing Radio Direction Finding (later christened "radar" by the Yanks) in time for the Battle of Britain. I expect there'll be some useful research produced as a side benefit of the new project, and who knows - maybe we'll accidentally produce a technology for clearing the techno-scales from the eyes of Apple fanbois!


  13. Andy Bright

    Re-inventing the wheel.

    As you mentioned, you can get decent EMPs from chucking a few nukes around - and they have so many of these I don't understand what the problem is with using a few.

    And what could be more environmentally friendly than a nice bit of recycling. Grab the obsolete stuff from the last two or three decades and re-brand them as EMP'ers.

    Surely that should keep the hippies happy, no need to worry about how to dispose of the material we use to make nuclear weapons when they become out of date, we'll just use them instead.

    I'm sure there must be a few 3rd World countries the US can pretend are threats to its existence, so plenty of places to get some practice in.

    And if the technological threat posed by some random African or South American nation isn't enough to scare your average American into green lighting another war - just mention you're doing the world a favour by reducing your stock pile of nukes. So it's all green and peaceful and environmentally rosy.

    After all if you can convince Americans that an impoverished, 3rd World nation like Iraq posed such a threat to their existence that they should fear going on holiday in their own country (yes really - I met a whole bunch that were scared about vacationing in Hawaii after it initially kicked off in 2003), surely it should be no problemo to convince them another one needs to have the internet sabotaged via bucket loads of nukes.

    We can just tell them it'll be good practice for when the Chinese invade in a few years.

    Oh and probably best to keep the geography to a minimum as you have been doing - no need for anyone to realise that your average African nation isn't a hop, skip and jump away from invading the US. Again, yes really - most of the people that were scared about going on holiday in their own country, thought Iraq could somehow attack them in the US. They couldn't understand why I was laughing or why I thought they were over-reacting more than just a tad.

  14. John Benson

    I'm hanging on to my 4.77 MHz PC XT...

    ...and my Commodores as well as other fine old computing equipment with nice wide signal traces that will dissipate induced currents and survive EMPs better than all these new-fangled systems. And the same goes for my 1988 Jaguar XJ-6 (and my 1989 model, too).

    After the program of permanent war for permanent peace takes its inevitable course and blasts us back a few decades, I'll build my payroll service bureau empire on my VIC-20, a cassette tape mass storage device and a dot matrix printer while the rest of you are out foraging for coat hangers and bottle caps to build an abacus.

    Then we will finally see some really serious discussion of vital issues like the TRS-80 versus the Commodore 64, and language wars will revolve around BASIC versus Assembler.

  15. John Benson

    oh, and I almost forgot:

    If the spectacular though expectable denouement of brinksmanship also frys our latest and greatest defensive systems, the Pentagon will finally have to turn to my low-tech alternative: Particle (Board) Weapons! I had originally proposed them as ASAT (Anti-Satellite) munitions, but if things get out of hand down here they can be easily repurposed for surface-to-surface use and constructed in all sizes and lethalities from inexpensive materials available at Home Depot and Lowe's.

  16. kain preacher

    ray guns bah

    what I want is a 60 tera Joule laser .

  17. Ishkandar

    @John Benson

    Why are you dissing my TRS-80 Model 1 level 2 for ?? It gave me good service for ages !! It also had a word processor (Electric Pencil) long before Wordstar appeared on the Apple 2E !!

  18. David


    "Hera's main sanctuary was at Argos"

    So we can get hold of one of these just by typing in the right seven digit code?

    HPM Device - 2 left in stock

  19. Anonymous Bastard


    So can it be set to stun?

  20. James Pickett
    Black Helicopters


    "it isn't a death ray, or anyway isn't meant to be"

    But what if it was? Oh goody, goody...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re amanfrommars

    Are you feeling OK? Not only did your comment about this being a direct payment from the US taxpayer to (US only) "defence" companies make reasonnable syntactical sense, it contained valuable input too.

    Keeo not taking the tablets?

  22. Joseph Helenihi

    Popular Mechanics outlined one in September 2001... was not a ray gun, but was a way to get the desired EMP that would ruin the electonics of a whole city without the many undesirable side effects of detonating a nuke.

    They were scheduled to test it sometime in the future, I wonder if


  23. lglethal Silver badge

    Its already been done!

    I dont know why there bothering with all this extra research, i mean it's already been done!

    Havent they watched Ocean's Eleven! All we need is George Clooney and Brad Pitt, send them and there crack team and boom! All bye bye to the electronics of said bad guys.

    What do you mean movies arent real?

  24. Mother Hubbard

    I can see it now ..

    One of those "funny warning labels" lists in 2030, includes a photo of the label under the 200 foot long airplane-dropping ray-gun that reads "Aim away from face, and cover genitals".

    Tesla would be proud. Maybe the FBI will bid on it - don't they still have his many trunks of documentation (outside of the handful that were released back to the family/trust)?

  25. justin myatt
    Black Helicopters


    I think that this is all a grande plot (as opposed to your typical grand plot) being put out by the makers of AA guns.

    As Revolutionary! stated one obviously fires the fancy new weponage at the tank, whose C of G being buggered then floats into the air.

    Now step in with the old Ack Ack* and shoot the blighter's out of the sky.

    Be prepared to duck, a 55 ton** tank falling on yer head will leave some bruises.

    *Ack Ack - not the Ack Ack from Mars Attacks***, but Anti Aircraft gun type of Ack Ack.

    **55 tons empty, add another 5 tons if the poor tankers have to cart all their health and safety documentation around with them.

    ***Mars Attacks, now they had some rays gun alright.

    Bleedin' cold in Calgary -18C brrrrrrr...

  26. David Robinson

    Not only U.S.

    Perhaps folks are not aware that there is research in U.K. on a smaller scale in order to supply the police with said ray to stop cars by blowing their electronics. The americans want to use it against their enemies, the U.K. against their own people! Figures though with this government.


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