Directed Energy Weapons may be a large threat to newer, highly computerized, weapons. Radio frequency attack weapons (RFWs) may be considered DEWs. In 1998, the Chief Test Pilot of the US Air Force's F-22 was quoted in a 1998 interview with Carlo Kopp, saying

"The F-22 does not have a radio, an Instrument Landing System (ILS) or a radar - at least in the sense that we have come to know these devices. You cannot, for example, remove the UHF radio box from the F-22 and inspect it. What we have learned to do is emulate the radio (and radar and ILS and many other functions) in software rather than hardware. Like booting up a Microsoft Word application on your PC, the F-22 boots up the UHF RADIO application on a micro processor."

What this means is that systems aboard weapon systems platforms are becoming highly-integated designs with those platforms. These designs directly result in CPU-intensive operations for all the weapon system functions.

High power radio attack weapons, generically refered to as High Power Microwaves (HPMs) are a threat because the asymmetry the United States' has created with technology advances can actually be seen as a liability or susceptibility. It is a way for an adversary to "level the playing field." They can nullify the electronic advantages. Inexpensive "tools of the trade" can be acquired commercially.


High Power Microwave Weapons seem to fall into three operational classes:

  1. Airborne emitters, tightly integrated with the airframe they fly on. For some reason, discussion seems to drift toward outfitting UAVs (rather than manned aircraft) with the necessary electronics. It may simply be smart resource management, using people where higher levels of judgement and lower levels of risk are required.
  2. Munitions that are shot from land, sea, or airborne platforms. These are shown in many cartoon diagrams to explode over enemy sites, knocking out their electronic equipment.
  3. "Suitcase devices" that are surreptitiously deployed by terrorist or covert operators.

Technically, an HPM device can be divided into sections that roughly follow the flow of energy through the device.

Prime Energy Source - Triggering & Waveshaping - Coupling - Antenna

Additional Reading

The HPMFundingDiary gives a summary of who's spending money on what.

A DEW File Gallery contains copies of some news reports.

Created by brian. Last Modification: Thursday 25 of October, 2012 21:29:18 CDT by brian.