Short, High-Energy Pulses Reaching 10 Gigawatts -- Equal to 10 Nuclear Reactors

Electronic Bomb Tested In Sweden


January 23, 1998

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - The Swedish military has bought and tested a Russian electronic bomb using high-power microwave signals to knock out the computers of jet fighters and nuclear power plants, the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported Wednesday.

"Russia is among the best in the world when it comes to manufacturing this type of electronic weapon," said Anders Kallenaas of the Swedish National Defence’s Research Institute (FOA).

The high-power microwave (HPM) bomb is stored in a briefcase and emits short, high-energy pulses reaching 10 gigawatts -- equal to 10 nuclear reactors.

It has a range of a dozen meters, and larger models stored in vans can reach as far as a few hundred meters, according to the paper. The target can be destroyed without alerting anyone.

The tests conducted by the Swedish military have shown that the silent weapon -- which does not explode -- can have disastrous effects, especially if it falls into the hands of terrorists.

The HPM bomb can be bought on the Russian market for "several hundreds of thousands kronor" (less than 100,000 dollars) and has already been bought by the Australian military among others, Svenska Dagbladet said.

The bomb presents a threat to the Swedish military, in particular to the JAS 39 Gripen jet fighter that it is trying to export. It can also knock out the electronic systems of nuclear or electric power plants, banks, trains, or even a simple telephone switchboard.

The bomb has also been developed into a pistol which can be used to knock out a single computer or vehicle.

The Swedish military has reportedly considered employing trained hackers to combat the problems posed by the new technology, though this could have legal implications.

According to defence experts questioned by Svenska Dagbladet, the HPM bomb has not yet been used. However, during the Gulf War, the US air force used other techniques to short-circuit Iraqi electricity cables. Since then, HPM bombs have been installed on cruise missiles.

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