This new microwave weapon aims to become the future "game changer" of the battlefield
Launched on February 26, 2021 by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the WARDEN (Waveform Agile RF Directed Energy) program aims to develop a new offensive jamming capability for the U.S. armed forces. The objective of the program is to extend the range of "Hight Power Microwawe" with a power 10 times superior to existing technologies. Eventually, the deployment of this innovation would enable the instant destruction of all electronic components of an air, land or naval platform. The development program is expected to last 48 months, and will be carried out in three phases. The cost of the program and its specifications are classified.
Three sub-components within a single program
Microwave weapons use the properties of microwaves to disrupt, disable or damage electronic components and circuits. The advantages of this system are numerous. Non-kinetic effects over great distances, operation in degraded environments, flexibility of use and effects that are both instantaneous and exponential make this weapon a "game changer". The WARDEN program will meet three technical challenges. The first will be to create a stable, high power, wide bandwidth radio frequency amplifier. The second will be to create fast and predictive capabilities for electromagnetic coupling in complex environments. The final application will be the most complex to implement, as it will aim to produce agile waveforms to keep currently deployed "shielding" systems in check.
A political weapon
Another program was launched in 2012, the Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP). This is a directed energy charge carried on a JASSM-ER missile. It can deliver up to 100 shots per pulse, all along the missile's trajectory. Available in about 20 units since 2019, and used by the US Air Force, this system, for which no other characteristics are known, should also equip the American F-35. Microwave weapons are on the same level as nuclear weapons, in that they can be used to take a country back to the Stone Age, by neutralizing the communication systems of its armed forces and the starters of its vehicles, its electricity network, and the computer networks of its banks or its administration. Without a radio link with their base, a nuclear power's SSBNs would be forced to go "round in the water". According to the experts interviewed by Air&Cosmos, the main difficulty is not so much the component generating these very particular microwaves (this magnetron is marketed at around 2 Meur), but rather the electrical generation capable of producing a power that is difficult to generate on an aircraft, unless it carries a considerable quantity of very high capacity batteries. The Russians have also worked a lot on the subject and in 2001 presented a microwave gun called Ranetz which would be able to neutralize drones at 40 km, and in 2014 a project for a satellite belonging to the Ekipaj constellation equipped with an analogous effector. And it is precisely because they are aware of the formidable power of such a weapon that some of their aircraft linked to deterrence operations, such as the Mig-31, are not equipped with electronic circuits, but with tubes because of their resilience capabilities.
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