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[] Air & Cosmos 10.05.02: French Research on Microwave, Radio Frequency Weapons Examined,

French Research on Microwave, Radio Frequency Weapons Examined
EUP20020604000290 Paris Air & Cosmos in French 10 May 02
[Report by Serge Brosselin: "France Goes for Microwave Weapons"]

RFW [Radio Frequency Weapons] and HPM [High-Powered Microwave] 
weapons--better known generically as electromagnetic and hyperfrequency 
weapons--systems are likely to become part of the panoply of military 
offensive weapons faster than the experts had foreseen (see A&C No. 
1751).   These are weapons that emit electromagnetic impulses (of 
non-nuclear origin) sufficiently powerful to perturb, and even destroy the 
electronics of the enemy's weapon systems: computers, homing guidance 
systems, fly-by-wire control systems, etc.   Several countries having 
already admitted to possessing or developing weapons of this type, France 
in its turn acknowledges having conducted a hyperfrequency weapons "black 
program" over the past 10 years or so.

HPM Weapons

"In France, several research, test, and industrial centers have already 
been working for some time on the development of these weapons, with a view 
to possessing means technologically and operationally superior to those of 
our potential adversaries," says Frank Trivaudey, head of electronic 
warfare programs and hyperfrequency weapon systems at the STTC (Common 
Technologies and Techniques Service) of the DGA (General Directorate for 
Weapons).   By way of this statement, France becomes a new country to 
officially acknowledge having a High-Powered Microwave (HPM) weapons 
development program.   In fact, the Ministry of Defense has just initiated 
a consultation, restricted to three countries, on the subject.

According to the Ministry's experts, France's needs are centered for the 
moment on consumable systems of the E-bomb, or electromagnetic-bomb, type, 
whose operation was explained by Air & Cosmos (see A&C No. 1764), based on 
flux compression generators [FCGs] or on high-voltage generators or 
high-energy impulse generators (of the Marx type or Tesla type).   These 
military payloads will equip the Scalp cruise missiles, the main body of 
precision bombs of the A2SM type for antiradar missions, and will replace 
conventional artillery shells.   With respect to recurrent systems, i.e., 
systems that can be used in a continuous manner, hyperfrequency weapons 
will equip several types of platforms, the constraint being , however, the 
resolving of the problems of electromagnetic compatibility with the other 
systems.   This constraint being understood, the DGA specialists state that 
demonstrators currently in the course of development will make it possible 
to have HPM weapons by 2005 capable of destroying the entire electronics of 
radars, PC radios, TV transmitters, etc. within a radius of 1 km, and 
perturbing these same systems within a radius of 100 km.   But an initial 
application could come into being very rapidly.   This would be a mobile 
system that the national gendarmerie envisions using to immobilize 
vehicles, by replacing deployable chevaux-de-frise on the roadway, as is 
already being done in Sweden and the United States.   The DGA has already 
launched "Adventure," a call for bids on a demonstrator of this type.

A longer-term objective, for 2015-2020, is to equip the French Army with 
zone-defense systems, involving the replacement of the current missiles 
with hyperfrequency weapons.   "The close-range anti-aircraft air-defense 
systems of tomorrow will be electromagnetic with a 10-km-radius sphere of 
efficacy for naval vessels, and a range of 20 km for ground-based systems," 
says the official in charge of the program.

Combat Planes and Drones

For airborne applications, three types of vectors are envisioned: combat 
drones, UCAVs [Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles], and armed planes.   "We are 
already able today to equip a pod 4 meters long, with a recurrent HPM 
weapon of several gigawatts of power," the Thales Communication specialists 
who are working on hyperfrequency weapons assert to Air & Cosmos.   "This 
figure can seem impressive, but for a pulse duration of one nanosecond it 
represents nothing more than 1 joule of energy to be generated by the 
hyperfrequency source, which is ridiculously low," they say.   The third 
type of vectors capable of powering HPM weapons are simply military 
transport planes of the A400M or Airbus type, whose onboard source of 
energy (1 megawatt continuous) is more than ample to power the HPM sources.

In France we are no longer working on hyperfrequency weapons for 
anti-personnel applications.   The systems being worked on are exclusively 
devoted to the destruction of the electronics of enemy systems," says Frank 
Trivaudey.   The frequency ranges, hence the technologies, are different 
for these two types of application.

Geostrategic Context

This new generation of weapons is being developed in a new geostrategic 
context.   "The disappearance of the East European bloc is compelling us to 
think of deterrence in different terms.   In terms of including, 
immediately below the nuclear, a new stage, a retaliation capability in 
keeping with a threat level that would not yet justify the engagement of 
the nuclear," says a French strategist, who evokes the desire on the part 
of the authorities to not be overtaken by a relaunching of the arms 
race.   The fact is that, based on specific and reliable information, it 
can be asserted that several countries are developing weapons of this type, 
and that a number of them have even openly expressed interest in the French 
technological concepts in the HPM sphere.

The hyperfrequency weapon is likely to eliminate a tactical safety 
latch.   "Today, the use of conventional means to strike an enemy radar or 
radio relay installation on the roof of a hospital or an orphanage would be 
unconscionable.   The use of an HPM weapon denies enemy forces the 
possibility of taking shelter behind a human shield," they say at 
Thales.   But the coin has its other side: The evaluation of a raid is 
impossible after an electromagnetic strike, since no destruction ensues 
from a hyperfrequency weapons engagement.

[Box p. 33]:

France, Germany, Great Britain United on Hyperfrequency Weapons

The French Ministry of Defense, in the course of a consultation limited to 
three countries--France, Germany, and Great Britain--has received from a 
consortium consisting of several industries based in the mentioned 
countries a response to the call for bids, designated "Amer," aimed at 
launching, between now and 2004-2005, the development of an HPM weapons 
system for the French Army.

The French initiative of opening a limited call for bids is explained by 
the DGA's desire to extend the work that has been done over the past two 
years, on an essentially Franco-French research basis, to a European 
partnership.   Two reasons are invoked to justify this opening.   The first 
is tied to the fact that by cooperating early enough it will be possible to 
put in place a European Research and Technology bidding market for the 
different projects and possible RFW and HPM approaches, prior to the advent 
of industrial rivalries.   No less than 63 HPM projects are currently under 
study in France, Germany, and Great Britain.

Sights are set on federating these different studies relative to sources, 
transmitters, antennas, test facilities, doctrine of use, and evaluation of 
advantages and inconveniences associated with RFW and HPM weapon 
systems.    The second is that the initiative is tied to the ratification 
by the defense ministers of the principal big powers, within the next two 
years, of an agreement relative to the control of proliferation of 
microwave weapons, because the situation at this point is deemed "critical" 
by the specialists.

In France, in Great Britain, and in Germany, there are no less than some 15 
players mobilized around RFW and HPM development programs.   In France the 
French pre-design research programs being conducted by the STTC/DGA are 
being supervised for the moment by the CEG (Gramat Test Center) with the 
cooperation of several industrial firms including Thales, the ITHPP(a 
company installed in the region of Brive), and MBDA.   When the 
prime-contractorship phase comes into being, other para-state 
organizations, such as ONERA [National Office for Aerospace Studies and 
Research] will join the program, the CEA [Atomic Energy Commission) being 
slated to eventually become the major player in the control of the 
development of RFW and HPM weapons systems.   In the United Kingdom, the 
studies are being conducted under the aegis of Qinetik, with BAE Systems, 
MBDA, and Culham Electromagnetic.   And in Germany, the research is being 
done with Diehl and TZN GmbH, and with the French-German ISL institute. 

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