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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse [NEMP] Simulator For DRDO's VRDE Facility

Testing electronic & electric circuitry's ability to withstand one of the fallout of a Nuclear detonation.

Ahmednagar-based DRDO lab, the Vehicle Research & Development Establishment [VRDE], recently issue a Global tender notice for acquisition to set up a Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse [NEMP] test facility. The winning vendor would also be responsible for providing & setting up the MIL STD 461F [RS105]-compliant equipment inside the anechoic chamber at its premise.



As could be inferred from the term, NEMP refers to the energy released as electromagnetic radiations, resulting from Nuclear reaction, like at the time of detonation of a Nuclear weapon. Normally experienced as short, but intense burst, lasting no more than a second, its interaction with electronic/electrical circuitry, inducing voltage spikes, could render them non-functional. Thus, to ensure functionality of systems used in such environment, they need to be suitably protected, normally achieved via radiation hardening & electromagnetic shielding. Once done, such NEMP facilities, using non-nuclear source to generate the electromagnetic pulse [EMP], would be used to ascertain the efficacy of the process. Sandwiched between two hostile countries in possession of Nuclear weapons, hardening the circuitry in the war-fighting machinery would be an primary requirement to ensure survivability. A critical test facility to aid indigenous military development programmes, those involving mobility platforms in this case, as suggested by locating it at VRDE.

Indian efforts towards acquiring capability to replicate this particular effect of a Nuclear explosion on a comparable scale, through non-Nuclear means involves a project undertaken by yet another DRDO lab, the Bengaluru-based Electronics & Radar Development Establishment [LRDE]. It has sought out to achieve a 640kV pulse generator that could then be used for testing, as mentioned above. While such a system is being developed primarily for non-lethal application [testing], it isn't hard to imagine its use as possible means of offense. Many years from now, if a weaponised version of this indigenous system is available for use, & put to use, it would leave the human opposition unharmed, but render him virtually defenceless, as the electromagnetic pulse [EMP] emitted from it "fries" the electronic control circuitry, the brain of any modern weapon system, & enabling communication system, crippling them. Such a weapon would also not come under the ambit of a Nuclear weapon, as defined by prevalent laws & treaties, yet be able to produce one of its effects. While deployable version of such system in India is likely decades away from realisation, American have reported to be working to develop such a weapon, the Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project [CHAMP]. A Technology Demonstrator, so far, it has reported successful trials, rendering the electronic targets non-functional, including the camera set up to record the effect.

Further Reading: Analysis of Electromagnetic Pulse Simulators


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