Electronics-killing EMP weapons for combat aircraft is focus of $15 million contract to Raytheon
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – High-power electromagnetics (HPEM) experts at the Raytheon Co. will help the U.S. Air Force determine the feasibility of using electronics-killing electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons aboard combat aircraft under terms of a $15 million contract announced on Tuesday.
Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., are asking the Raytheon Missile Systems segment in Albuquerque, N.M., to investigate ways to integrate future high-power electromagnetics (HPEM) technologies into aircraft weapons.
An HPEM weapon, in theory, would emit a short burst of EMP -- or an electromagnetic disturbance -- that would damage or destroy targeted electronic systems such as radar, communications, power grids, land vehicles, and aircraft.
The effects of an HPEM would be similar to those of a lightning strike or the EMP generated by the detonation of a nuclear weapon. In other words it could destroy or damage any kind of unshielded modern electronics, ranging from computers, to electric generators, to small appliances.
The contract is part of the Air Force Research Lab's High-Powered Electromagnetics (HPEM) Research Program, begin two years ago to advance the state of the art in HPEM technologies for directed-energy weapons and a variety of other aerospace and defense uses.
On this contract Raytheon experts will look into the feasibility of developing and using HPEM weapons aboard a variety of aircraft. Raytheon will conduct studies develop concepts, and conduct tests for building HPEM systems and components for military aircraft.
Raytheon experts also will use simulation tools to assess the performance and mission operations of future HPEM weapons-equipped aircraft. Airborne HPEM-based EMP weapons have the potential to knock out enemy sensors, communications, weapons, and other electronic systems without killing people.
The Air Force Research Lab's HPEM Research Program seeks to develop HPEM technology not only for electronics-killing aircraft weapons, but also for directed-energy weapons, cyber warfare, electronic warfare (EW), power electronics, and antennas.
The program has six technical areas: HPEM Transition; HPEM Cyber/Electronic Warfare (EW) Applications; HPEM Effects; Electromagnetics (EM) Weapons Technology; Numerical Simulation; and NextGen HPEM.
Raytheon is handling the HPEM Transition technical area. In March Booz Allen Hamilton in McLean, Va., and CSRA LLC in Chantilly, Va., each won a $10 million contract for the program's HPEM Cyber/Electronic Warfare (EW) Applications technical area, which seeks to identify and develop HPEM technologies for the cyber and electronic warfare communities.
HPEM Effects will investigate the effects of HPEM against a broad range of electronics, and develop predictive models for HPEM battle damage.
Electromagnetics (EM) Weapons Technology will move new HPEM technologies into pulsed-power weapons, including developing compact repetitive pulsed-power topologies; investigating high-energy particle beams; and creating weak and strongly ionized plasmas using ultrashort pulse lasers (USPL).
Numerical Simulation will develop simulation to help develop modern HPEM systems and the Improved Concurrent Electromagnetic Particle-in-Cell (ICEPIC) software.
NextGen HPEM will develop the source and antenna technologies for HPEM weapons, including broadband high power amplifiers, tunable high power oscillators, and broadband antennas RF effects weapons that work over a broad range of frequencies, pulse lengths, pulse repetition frequencies, and power densities.
On Tuesday's contract Raytheon will do the work at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., and should be finished by August 2020. For more information contact Raytheon Missile Systems online at www.raytheon.com, or the Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate at www.kirtland.af.mil/Units/AFRL-Directed-Energy-Directorate.
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