The Pentagon Fears That Deadly Microwave Weapons Are Undetectable

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When U.S. diplomats started mysteriously falling unwell in Havana in 2016, scientists had been perplexed by the trigger. Until they realized that the trigger was most likely a microwave weapon that bathed the goal in lethal radiation.

Now the U.S. army needs a sensor that can alert troopers when they’re being attacked by microwave weapons. Because troopers might not even notice they’re below assault by a beam that’s invisible to the attention, however painfully obvious to the mind.

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is searching for a wearable sensor that can detect radio-frequency (RF) weapons, which undertaking intense beams of electromagnetic power, together with microwaves. RF weapons are already being developed by a number of nations. The U.S. has developed microwave weapons to shoot down drones, or as non-lethal crowd control devices. There are additionally stories that China may need used microwaves towards Indian troops in 2020.

Yet as a result of radio-frequency weapons are largely unknown and untested, troopers might not even know they’re below assault. “Without known patterns of RF injury to guide diagnosis, it will be difficult to differentiate RF injury from other common sources of illness and injury such as heat stroke,” in line with the DHA research solicitation. “This ambiguous symptomology is aggravated by the transient nature of RF energy. Without a sensor it is possible that no residual evidence of RF attack will be available.”

Indeed, the U.S. authorities initially dismissed stories that U.S. diplomatic and intelligence personnel had been affected by complications, nausea and ringing within the ears. Since 2016, when personnel on the U.S. embassy in Havana first reported signs, illnesses have been reported by U.S. diplomats and intelligence brokers stationed in Russia, China and different nations. Were these attributable to some pure ailment, or hostile motion by international governments? And if hostile, what was the trigger?

Eventually, suspicions turned to microwaves, whose effects on the human brain were discovered in the 1960s. “Directed pulsed RF energy, especially in those with the distinct early manifestations, appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases,” concluded a National Academy of Sciences study in 2020.

Beyond complications and vertigo, RF weapons can really injury the human nervous system. In 2014, the National Security Agency admitted that one in every of its officers may need been harmed by a microwave assault within the Nineties.

Not surprisingly, the Pentagon worries {that a} directed power weapon used towards embassies may be used towards troopers. A wearable sensor would let troops know they’re below assault, giving them to take cowl or neutralize the weapon earlier than they undergo harm.

But wearable sensors pose challenges: they must be small and light-weight sufficient to be simply carried by already-overburdened troopers, and they should sip energy to protect their batteries. Indeed, DHA lists an “extremely small footprint in terms of space, weight and power (SWaP),” to be a very powerful issue, adopted by low value, a low false constructive price, and a show that may be simply interpreted by customers.

DHA really appears to be envisioning a comparatively easy machine smaller than the journal of the M4 rifle. The company compares the RF weapon detector to M8 and M9 paper used to detect the presence of chemical weapons.

Interestingly, it seems that individuals are much less susceptible to radiation than electronics. “Because irradiance levels needed to injure personnel are orders of magnitude higher than required to damage electronics, designing a broad band absorber with appropriate response characteristic will require substantial innovation,” DHA famous.

Phase I of the undertaking requires figuring out the consequences of microwave radiation on people, and conceiving a design for the machine that features an antenna that may survive intense radiation. Phase II requires a prototype, adopted by a Phase III transition to customers such because the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency’s Advanced Development Office or the Army’s Program Manager for Soldier Survivability.

Perhaps essentially the most vital side of this undertaking is what it says in regards to the future battlefield. Directed power weapons, corresponding to lasers and microwaves, had loved an unique aura. They had been seen as instruments for destroying ICBMs and drones, or for dispersing rioters. But the truth that the U.S. army needs its foot troopers to detect microwave assaults means that these weapons might develop into part of standard warfare. Future battlefields are prone to be in troublesome terrain, corresponding to cities and tunnels, the place an power weapon could be simply as helpful as a rifle.

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