Unleashing a New Era of Warfare

The world of military technology has witnessed a remarkable evolution with the advent of Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs). These innovative devices harness concentrated energy to incapacitate, disable, or destroy their targets. But what exactly are DEWs, and how do they function?

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Mastering the Power of Electromagnetic Energy

At their core, DEWs utilize the potent force of concentrated electromagnetic energy to engage enemy forces and assets. These cutting-edge weapons fall under the category of electromagnetic systems, capable of converting chemical or electrical energy into radiated energy that can be meticulously focused. They encompass an array of technologies, from the awe-inspiring precision of lasers to the formidable potency of radio frequencies and high-power microwaves.

How Do They Work?

The intricate workings of DEWs vary depending on their design and purpose:

  • Laser-based DEWs, use high-powered laser beams to target and heat materials, causing them to melt or vaporize.
  • Radiofrequency DEWs emit robust radio waves that can disrupt electronic equipment or even create a burning sensation on the skin.
  • High-power microwaves, release intense bursts of microwave energy, leading to the frying of electronics or the disabling of vehicles.

Global Pursuit of Technological Superiority

Several nations across the globe have recognized their potential and are dedicating resources to their development. The key players are: 

  • United States: At the forefront of DEW research, the U.S. military is actively advancing various types of directed energy weapons, from laser systems to high-powered microwaves. These technologies find application in air, sea, and ground-based systems, shaping the future of warfare. 
  • Russia: With a burgeoning interest in DEWs, Russia has embarked on tests involving laser and microwave-based systems. Their foray into this field signifies a drive for enhanced military capabilities. 
  • China: Pioneering developments in laser technology, China is harnessing DEWs for air and naval defense. Their strategic advancements underscore the transformative potential of these weapons. 
  • Israel: Laser-based air defense systems are taking shape in Israel, aimed at countering threats posed by rockets and drones. This innovative approach exemplifies the versatility of DEWs. 
  • Germany, United Kingdom, South Korea, India, and Beyond: These countries are also investing in DEW research, illustrating the widespread interest in harnessing these technologies for a multitude of defense applications. 

Are DEWs In Use Today

DEWs have been in use since 2014 if not earlier. The following snippet about the Active Denial System (ADS) was written way back in 2014 by the military magazine 

Active Denial System (ADS)

The Active Denial System (ADS) is a DEW system that is available, fielded and ready for combat. The ADS, sometimes referred to as a heat ray or pain ray, was created by Raytheon, a world-leader in microwave development and design, and is one of the first non-lethal, directed-energy, counter-personnel systems fielded to the US Army. The ADS was designed to be a non-lethal crowd control and area denial system. It is vehicle mounted and has been tested at a range of approximately one kilometre. ADS sends an extremely high frequency and focused beam of 95GHz waves at a person, or group of people, causing intense pain. The energy causes human skin surface temperature to rise and become so uncomfortable in a few seconds that people are compelled to leave the target area. Hundreds of human tests have been conducted and the ADS has been certified as non-lethal, but doubts remain concerning its long term health effects or what happens to a person under extended exposure. The ADS was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, but was never used and was withdrawn by sceptical field commanders. The ADS was demonstrated by the US Marines at Quantico, VA in March 2012, and the system was enthusiastically embraced by the Marines. “You’re not going to hear it, you’re not going to smell it, you’re going to feel it,” said Col. Tracy Tafolla, Director of the Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate, “and that provides us with some advantages we can use.”

Can DEWs directly affect buildings?

The answer lies in the intricate interplay of technology, power, and construction materials. DEWs, such as lasers, microwaves, and particle beams, wield the potential to deliver focused energy to a target, resulting in various effects, including burning. Laser-based DEWs can generate intense heat, making them capable of igniting flammable materials within buildings. However, several factors temper their application: 

  • Power and Focus: The potency of the laser and its precision are vital components. Achieving the energy required for substantial damage or ignition can prove technically challenging over extended distances. 
  • Time and Sustained Energy: Effectively burning down a building necessitates sustained energy delivery, making it impractical for real-world scenarios, particularly with well-constructed structures. 
  • Building Materials: Modern buildings often integrate fire-resistant materials, mitigating the efficacy of DEWs for igniting structures. 
  • Range and Line of Sight: Atmospheric conditions and obstacles impact the weapon’s effectiveness, potentially limiting its range. 

The Unseen DEW Energy

The enigma of whether DEW energy is visible hinges on the electromagnetic spectrum and the wavelength of the energy employed: 

  • Laser Weapons: Laser beams, when powerful and within the visible spectrum, can be seen by the naked eye. Yet, military applications often utilize wavelengths beyond human perception for enhanced effectiveness and stealth. 
  • Microwaves and Radiofrequency Weapons: Emitting longer wavelengths, microwaves and radiofrequency-based DEWs usually remain invisible. Their effects manifest through disruptions or heating of materials. 
  • Infrared and More: Specialized tools, like infrared cameras, detect the heat signatures generated by infrared spectrum DEWs. 

Detecting DEW Exposure

Understanding whether you are being targeted by a DEW demands astute observation and consideration: 

  • Sudden Effects: Unexplained disruptions in electronics, flickering lights, or erratic behavior in devices might suggest DEW interference. 
  • Physical Symptoms: Experiencing burns, discomfort, or unusual sensations, buzzing/humming sounds in your head, can all point to DEW exposure. 
  • Unusual Damage Patterns: Scorch marks or distinct damage patterns on objects could indicate DEW activity. 
  • Environmental Anomalies: Localized heating, unusual sounds, or electromagnetic interference might betray DEW presence. 
  • Visual Clues: Visible effects like laser beams or unique light emissions could hint at DEW engagement. 
  • Unexplained Health Issues: Unusual health problems following specific events could be linked to DEW exposure. 

Riding the Wave of Technological Advancement

Directed Energy Weapons remain a compelling frontier in military technology, promising a paradigm shift in warfare. As the world witnesses ongoing research and development, these futuristic tools herald a new era defined by their capacity to transform the very fabric of battlefields, both seen and unseen.

 External Video links: 

Directed Energy Weapons

The US is making exciting progress in DEWs


Posted in Science & Technology.