THE Pentagon is developing ways to detect electromagnetic pulses in a bid to prevent a ‘Pearl Harbor-style’ surprise nuclear EMP attack.
The nation’s defense headquarters is working on ways to detect and analyze EMP sensors amid reports China may be plotting to use an electromagnetic weapon to wreck havoc on the US.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency is working on plans to counter a possible attack under its Conventional Nuclear Integration/Battlefield Nuclear Warfare program, Forbes reports.
“The modern battlefield is heavily dependent on electronic systems and near real-time data,” Tom Cartledge of the DTRA’s Nuclear Detection Division explains.
“Warfighters would benefit by being able to rapidly assess why these essential systems are not functioning properly so that appropriate troubleshooting or alternate procedures can be initiated.
“Our initial assessment is that we’ll likely need a family of sensors to fully inform the battlefield.
“This would include sensors for dismounted warfighters, mobile command posts, and fixed facilities. Because of size, weight, power, and data constraints with these different platforms, it is likely these sensors will vary in capability.”
The modern battlefield is heavily dependent on electronic systems and near real-time data.Tom Cartledge Of The DTRA’s Nuclear Detection Division
The news come as a new report has warned China may be plotting to use an electromagnetic pulse weapon that would plunge the US into darkness and kill hundreds of millions.
Potential ways to detect an EMP attack could include sensors that give details of the pulse – its duration and intensity – indicating what equipment might have been damaged and how badly.
Sensors could also potentially tell whether an EMP is from a nuclear event, and what type of conventional device was used and where it came from.
“These sensors would most likely be networked within larger systems to sharing early warning information and enable collaborative analysis,” says Cartledge.
“However, communications is one of the capabilities impacted by an EMP so the sensors must be able to work stand-alone.”
Campaign group the EMP Task Force on Homeland and National Security released the paper which details the Chinese threat that it warns could come in the form of a nuclear strike from space.
Task force executive director Dr Peter Pry penned the report – first released on June 10 – which warns of a possible “Pearl Harbor-style” preemptive strike in a confrontation between the US and China.
It comes as relations between the two powers remain frosty amid the coronavirus pandemic, which President Donald Trump continues to blame on China.
EMPs use low-yield nuclear weapons detonated in the atmosphere to create an invisible and silent wave of energy that fries electronic equipment and may knock out the power grid.
PLUNGE INTO CHAOS
With no power, the nation would be plunged into chaos which could lead to rioting and famine – potentially killing millions.
Dr Pry – who was chief of staff on the Congressional EMP Commission – is calling on the White House to do more to protect the power grid and other critical infrastructure.
The expert also worked as an advisor to the House Armed Services Committee, and is a former intelligence officer with the CIA.
The EMP Task Force on Homeland and National Security is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the threat posed by such weapons.
Writing in the report China: EMP Threat, Dr Pry warns he believes a high-altitude EMP is the “most likely kind of future warfare”.
The report lays out suggestions that China have been preparing for such a strike for many years so it can use the capability alongside cyber-attacks.
The task force describes itself as an organisation of “citizens, engineers, field experts, and others, all united in our concern for the American people”.
On its website, it describes the threat of the US power grid crashing as “very real”.
The organisation warns up to 90 per cent of Americans would die within the first year if it went down – a total of 295million people.
Dr Pry warns recent Chinese cyber attacks – should be ” regarded as possible practice or preparation for Total Information Warfare—including nuclear HEMP attack”.
China has “Super-EMP weapons” which are based on a designs stolen from the US, the report claims.
It suggests satellite launched weapons or new hypersonic missiles could act as delivery systems for the EMP which would plunge the US into darkness.
The report warns China’s small nuclear arsenal could become a “giant killer” if it equips missiles with warheads designed for an EMP strike.
Dr Pry also claims China’s self imposed “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons would not apply when launching an EMP.
He warns: “Chinese military writings are replete with references to making HEMP attacks against the United States as a means of prevailing in war.”
The report describes a campaign of “cyber bugs and hacking” as the “tip of the spear” in a Chinese offensive against the US.
The expert compared these information warfare tactics to the “motorcycle troops that preceded the heavy armored divisions in Germany’s Blitzkrieg”.
Dr Pry warns the coronavirus pandemic has “exposed dangerous weaknesses” in the US planning for disasters.
Writing in The Hill, he said: “Hostile foreign powers surely have noticed the panicked, incompetent US response to the virus that shut down a prosperous US economy, self-inflicting the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
“The nationwide lockdowns brought shortages of all kinds, exposing societal and critical infrastructure fragility — and causing widespread fear.”
President Trump signed an executive order last year to try and protect the US from the threat of an EMP.
It ordered federal agencies to plan for the possibility and assess its risks to America.
Dr Pry however said the executive order so far has had “done nothing to protect the national electric grid or other critical infrastructures that sustain the lives of 330 million Americans”.
Tensions remain high between the US and China, and Beijing this week allegedly showed off its cyber capabilities as it was accused of being behind a mass hack attack on Australia.
So far there has never been a nuclear EMP attack in history, with the side-effect of such blasts first being noticed by the US during a test in 1962.