DEFENDING AGAINST DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS: RF WEAPONS AND LASERS

MICHAEL J. FRANKEL

EMP Commission, Washington, D.C.

EDWARD T. TOTON

Toton, Incorporated, Reston, Virginia

1 INTRODUCTION

Like many inventors of a new technology, the first caveman to heave a rock in anger at his fellow troglodyte must have quickly realized he was on to something. The concentration and direction of expended energy on a target where it will have the most impact, while minimizing the expenditure of wasted energy elsewhere where it will not, is the essence of directed energy weapons (DEWs). So, heaved rocks and other forms of kinetic weapons such as bullets are directed energy threats. High explosives, which may in more usual circumstances squander much of their kinetic energy in a spherically symmetric expansion into mostly empty space, may also be configured as DEWs through shape charge configurations or other specialized charge designs. But, the more common perception of DEWs today deals with devices that radiate electromagnetic energy in the form of high or low energy “light”—lasers and radio frequency (RF) weapons—and both charged and neutral particle beams.

A great deal of research dollars have been expended—and continue to be expended—by the US government in pursuit of the development of DEWs. The first suggested use of such devices in a military context dates back to the 1950s when charged particle beams were studied as a proposed defense against atomic weapons [1].1 In the 1970s, there was particular ...

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