An Overview of High Power Microwaves

Cochin University of Science and Technology, Cochin 16.12.2016

In the modern battlefield dominated by electronic warfare and smart weapons systems, high power microwave weapons are greatly preferred. An HPM weapon is a device designed to disrupt, degrade, or destroy targets by radiating electromagnetic energy in the RF spectrum, typically in the microwave frequency regime. The basic elements of an HPM device are a power source, a microwave source, and a transmitter. They determine the HPM beam’s characteristics and power. These along with the target’s vulnerabilities, determine the effective range. HPM weapons can be divided into narrow-band, and ultra-wideband weapons. A narrow-band device emits all its energy within one percent of the central frequency whereas an ultra-wideband device disperses its energy over a bandwidth from 100s of megahertz to several gigahertz wide. There are two pathways high power microwaves can seep into an electronic system. First, RF energy enters the system through a component or sensor designed to receive the energy like a radar antenna, known as front-door coupling. Second, HPMs can enter through other apertures or cracks that allow the energy to diffuse into the system, known as back-door coupling.