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[infowar.de] 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.
"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.
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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