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US government contractor developing 'microwave gun,' Hot Pockets tremble

Jesse Hicks, @jhicks23
April 16, 2011
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Ah, the beloved "electronic bomb," able to disable all technology in its vicinity: variations on the concept go way back, but useful prototypes remain tantalizingly out of reach. Into the breach steps defense contractor BAE Systems, taking a fresh crack with a High-Powered Microwave (HPM) gun intended to disable small boat engines – if successful, the technology may also target ships, UAVs, and missile payloads. The secret-shrouded weapon sounds similar to Boeing's planned airborne EMP weapon, but lacking the missile delivery systems. BAE seems to be betting big on electromagnetic warfare as a future battlefield tactic, with a manager pitching the sci-fi scene to Aviation Week:
"Unlike lasers, HPM beams don't need a lot of accuracy. With a fan [of HPM energy] you can target 10-30 small boats. If you can knock out 50-75% of the engines in a swarm, you can then concentrate on the remainder with lasers or kinetic [cannons]."
To develop better defenses against such attacks, the contractor received $150,000 from the Air Force to test-fire microwaves at military computers. No word on whether said defenses involve generous use of tin foil.

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