ELECTROMAGNETIC WEAPONS: CUBA AND IRAN
DR. MANUEL CEREIJO
Intelligence reports have recently found the active cooperation between Cuba and Iran to develop electromagnetic weapons, most important the so called E-bomb. We exposed these activities in a report written on 2004. This past week of April 30, it was reported by the main cable TV news stations. We are here updating our last report.
The Russians’ FAPSI have been on the lead in the development of HERF and LERF FAPSI was partially privatized, and some of its members went to Cuba to work. Now, Russians (private personnel), Iranians, Chinese, and Cuban personnel are joining efforts, directed by Cuban military, on the development of these weapons.
Cuba’s main facilities are at:
Electronic Farm: 230 00’ 17"’ 820 25’ 26’’
Bejucal Base: 220 56’ 00"’ 820 23’ 30"
San Felipe : 22 50’ 82 20’
Now, The E-Bomb: Introduction
Now, China, North Korea, Iran and Cuba are joining efforts in the development of the ultimate of a high power microwave weapon, which we refer to as the E-Bomb. Of course, the United States is also working on it, and possibly already tested a version of it in Iraq.
Such a weapon can shut down telecommunications networks, disrupt power supplies, and fry an adversary’s countless computers and electronic gadgets, yet still leave buildings, bridges, and highways intact. It will strike with precision, in an instant, and leave behind no trace of where it came from.
The E- Bomb is really part of the family of high power microwave (HPM) weapons. HPMs generate an intense “blast” of electromagnetic waves in the microwave frequency band (gigahertz), that is strong enough to overload electrical circuitry. An HPM weapon can induce currents large enough to melt circuitry. But even less intense bursts can temporarily disrupt electrical equipment or permanently damage integrated circuits, causing them to fail minutes, days, or even weeks later. People caught in the burst of a microwave weapon would, by contrast, be untouched and might not even know they have been hit.
From the military’s perspective, HPM weapons have many things going for them: their blast travels at the speed of light, they can be fired without any visible emanation, and they are unaffected by gravity or atmospheric conditions. The weapons come in two kinds: ultra-wideband and narrow-band. Think of the former as a flashbulb, and the later as a laser.
Ultrawideband weapons radiate over a broad frequency range, but with relatively low energy. Their nanoseconds-long burst produces a shock that indiscriminately disrupts or destroys any unshielded electronic components within their reach. The bomb’s destructiveness depends on the strength of the ultrawideband source, the altitude at which it is initiated, and its distance from the target.
Narrowband weapons, by contrast, emit at a single frequency or closely clustered frequencies at very high power. These pulses can be directed at specific target. Technologically, they are more sophisticated than ultrawideband sources, they are far more difficult to develop, but are reusable and of much greater use.
An e-bomb can be deliver in a number of ways: cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, or aerial bomb. The e-bomb consists of both a microwave source and a power source. Ultrawideband e-bombs aim to create an electromagnetic pulse like that accompanying a nuclear detonation.
Focused Like a Laser
The narrowband HPM weapons, that Cuba is developing with China, Iran, and North Korea, and of course, the United States at New Mexico, are nonlethal, reusable, and tunable. They can be fired from miles away. Like a laser, the focused beam disperses only slightly over great distances. They can even penetrate electronics shielded against a nuclear detonation. The deepest bunkers with the thickest concrete walls are not safe from such a beam if they have even been a single unprotected wire reaching the surface. One big push in microwave weapons has been toward portability.
The joining efforts of Cuba, Iran, China, and North Korea in the microwave weapons development create a very dangerous and serious threat against the United States.
High-power microwave (HPM)
High-power microwave (HPM) sources have been under investigation for several years as potential weapons for a variety of combat, sabotage, and terrorist applications. Due to classification restrictions, details of this work are relatively unknown outside the military community and its contractors. A key point to recognize is the insidious nature of HPM. Due to the gigahertz-band frequencies (4 to 20 GHz) involved, HPM has the capability to penetrate not only radio front-ends, but also the most minute shielding penetrations throughout the equipment. At sufficiently high levels, as discussed, the potential exists for significant damage to devices and circuits. For these reasons, HPM should be of interest to the broad spectrum of EMC practitioners.
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and High Powered Microwave (HMP) Weapons offer a significant capability against electronic equipment susceptible to damage by transient power surges. This weapon generates a very short, intense energy pulse producing a transient surge of thousands of volts that kills semiconductor devices. The conventional EMP and HMP weapons can disable non-shielded electronic devices including practically any modern electronic device within the effective range of the weapon.
Cuba and China have joined efforts to develop HPMs and EMPs in Cuba. Four main sites: Wajay electronic farm, Bejucal base, San Felipe base, and Santiago de Cuba electronic farm. More sophisticated and smaller weapons are developed at Paseo and 15th, El Vedado, La Habana. They are developing microwave weapons to disrupt communications in the United States.
The effectiveness of an EMP device is determined by the power generated and the characteristic of the pulse. The shorter pulse wave forms, such as microwaves, are far more effective against electronic equipment and more difficult to harden against. Current efforts focus on converting the energy from an explosive munitions to supply the electromagnetic pulse. This method produces significant levels of directionally focused electromagnetic energy.
Future advances may provide the compactness needed to weaponize the capability in a bomb or missile warhead. Currently, the radius of the weapon is not as great as nuclear EMP effects. Open literature sources indicate that effective radii of “hundreds of meters or more” are possible. EMP and HPM devices can disable a large variety of military or infrastructure equipment over a relatively broad area. This can be useful for dispersed targets.
A difficulty is determining the appropriate level of energy to achieve the desired effects. This will require detailed knowledge of the target equipment and the environment (walls, buildings). The obvious counter-measure is the shielding or hardening of electronic equipment. Currently, only critical military equipment is hardened e.g., strategic command and control systems. Hardening of existing equipment is difficult and adds significant weight and expense. As a result, a large variety of commercial and military equipment will be susceptible to this type of attack.
The US Navy reportedly used a new class of highly secret, non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse warheads during the opening hours of the Persian Gulf War to disrupt and destroy Iraqi electronics systems. The warheads converted the energy of a conventional explosion into a pulse of radio energy. The effect of the microwave attacks on Iraqi air defense and headquarters was difficult to determine because the effects of the HPM blasts were obscured by continuous jamming, the use of stealthy F-117 aircraft, and the destruction of Iraq's electrical grid. The warheads used during the Gulf War were experimental warheads, not standard weapons deployed with fielded forces.
Col. William G. Heckathorn, commander of the Phillips Research Site and the deputy director of the Directed Energy Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory, was presented the Legion of Merit medal during special retirement ceremonies in May 1998. In a citation accompanying the medal, Col. Heckathorn was praised for having provided superior vision, leadership, and direct guidance that resulted in the first high-power microwave weapon prototypes delivered to the warfighter. The citation noted that "Col. Heckathorn united all directed energy development within Army, Navy and Air Force, which resulted in an efficient, focused, warfighter-oriented tri-service research program." In December of 1994 he came to Kirtland to become the director of the Advanced Weapons and Survivability Directorate at the Phillips Laboratory. Last year he became the commander of the Phillips Laboratory while still acting as the director of the Advanced Weapons and Survivability Directorate.
As with a conventional munitions, a microwave munitions is a "single shot" munitions that has a similar blast and fragmentation radius. However, while the explosion produces a blast, the primary mission is to generate the energy that powers the microwave device. Thus, for a microwave munitions, the primary kill mechanism is the microwave energy, which greatly increases the radius and the footprint by, in some cases, several orders of magnitude. For example, a 2000-pound microwave munition will have a minimum radius of approximately 200 meters, or footprint of approximately 126,000 square meters.
Studies have examined the incorporation of a high power microwave weapon into the weapons bay of a conceptual uninhabited combat aerial vehicle. The CONOPS, electromagnetic compatibility and hardening (to avoid a self-kill), power requirements and potential power supplies, and antenna characteristics have been analyzed. Extensive simulations of potential antennas have been performed. The simulations examined the influence of the aircraft structure on the antenna patterns and the levels of leakage through apertures in the weapons bay. Other investigations examined issues concerning the electromagnetic shielding effectiveness of composite aircraft structures.
Collateral damage from E-bombs is dependent on the size and design of the specific bomb. An E-bomb that utilizes explosive power to obtain its damaging microwaves will result in typical blast and shrapnel damage. Ideally, an E-Bomb would be designed to minimize and dissipate most of the mechanical collateral damage. Human exposure to microwave radiation is hazardous within several meters of the epicenter. However, there is a relatively low risk of bodily damage at further distances.
Any non-military electronics within range of the E-bomb that have not been protected have a high probability of being damaged or destroyed. The best way to defend against E-bomb attack is to destroy the platform or delivery vehicle in which the E-bomb resides. Another method of protection is to keep all essential electronics within an electrically conductive enclosure, called a Faraday cage. This prevents the damaging electromagnetic field from interacting with vital equipment.
The problem with Faraday cages is that most vital equipment needs to be in contact with the outside world. This contact point can allow the electromagnetic field to enter the cage, which ultimately renders the enclosure useless. There are ways to protect against these Faraday cage flaws, but the fact remains that this is a dangerous weakpoint. In most circumstances E-bombs are categorized as 'non-lethal weapons' because of the minimal collateral damage they create. The E-bomb's 'non-lethal' categorization gives military commanders more options to choose from.
It is a rat race. United States trying to develop microwave weapons to deter terrorists with a minimum of casualties, and terrorist nations-Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and CHINA- trying to develop microwave weapons to disrupt communications in the United States.