What is EMP and DEW and SEAD ?
An electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. EMP interference can be employed to damage electronic equipment, and at higher energy levels a powerful EMP just like lightning can damage physical objects such as buildings and aircraft structures.
A directed-energy weapon (DEW) employing EMP is a ranged weapon system that inflicts damage at a target by emission of highly focused energy. Potential applications of this technology include anti-personnel weapon systems, missile defense system, and the disabling of lightly armored vehicles or mounted optical devices.
Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD, are military actions to suppress enemy surface-based air defenses, including not only surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) but also interrelated systems such as early-warning radar and command, control and communication (C3) functions. Suppression can be accomplished both by physically destroying the systems or by disrupting and deceiving them through electronic warfare. In modern warfare SEAD missions can constitute as much as 30% of all sorties launched in the first week of combat and continue at a reduced rate through the rest of a campaign.
Here we are talking of an Indo-Israeli DEW (missile) employing EMP to accomplish SEAD.
Background of Standoff DEW For SEAD
Let us understand the joint India-Israel project to co-develop an air-launched, standoff EMP-emitting missile, which, for all intents and purposes, will be India’s first operational precision-guided directed-energy weapon (DEW). It may be recalled that in the night of September 6, 2007 in the desert at Al Kibar, 130km from the Iraqi border and 30km from the northern Syrian provincial city Deir el-Zor, a fleet of ten Israeli Defence Forces-Air Force F-15I aircrefts conducted Operation Orchard, which involved the destruction of heavy-water reactor then under construction with North Korean expertise and Iranian funding. In that raid, the Iseaeli Defence Forces-Air Force had used a RAFAEL-developed precision-guided, standoff DEW to shut down Syria’s ground-based air-defence sensors—a move that would go on to be the optimum model for future surgical air-strikes.
Israel’s Offer to India:
Israel offered to co-develop a variant of this DEW with India on July 7, 2008 during an official meeting in Pune with the DRDO. This was followed by two additional meetings held in Delhi with senior DRDO and IAF officials in August and September 2008. The joint R & D project officially began in mid-2010 and series-production of this DEW will commence later this year, with the Kalyani Group being the prime industrial contractor from the Indian side.
Nature of Indo-Israeli EMP Missile :
This air-launched, fire-and-forget, expendable DEW, whose main role is to render electronic targets useless, will make use of the airframe of RAFAEL’s Spice 250 rocket-powered PGM, and will have a range of 120km. It is a non-kinetic alternative to traditional explosive weapons that use the energy of motion to defeat their targets. During a mission, this missile will navigate a pre-programmed flight plan (using fibre-optic gyros) and at pre-set coordinates an internal active phased-arraymicrowave emitter will emit bursts of selective high-frequency radio wave strikes against up to six different targets during a single mission.The EMP-like field which will be generated will shut down all hostile electronics. Thus, the whole idea behind such a weapon is to be able to destroy an enemy’s command, control, communication and computing, surveillance and intelligence (C4SI) capabilities without doing any damage to the people or traditional infrastructure in and around it. In other words, it can eliminate an air-defence facility’s effectiveness by destroying the electronics within it alone, via a microwave pulse, without kinetically attacking the facility itself.
Use of this Weapon for Indian Air Force:
For the IAF, this air-launched DEW will be a ‘first day of war’ standoff weapon that can be launched outside an enemy’s area-denial/anti-access capabilities, and fly a route over known C4SI facilities, zapping them along its way, before destroying itself at the end of its mission. Because of its stealthy design, long-range and expendability, it will fly where no other manned airborne assets could and because it does not blow anything up, its use does not necessarily give away the fact that the enemy is under direct attack in the first place. In that sense, it is also a psychological weapon, capable of at least partially blinding an enemy before it even knows that a larger-scale air-attack is coming. The IAF plans to arm its upgraded Mirage 2000Hs and the yet-to-be-acquired Rafale MMRCAs with this DEW and also with RAFAEL’s Spice-1000 PGM.