Faced with the reality that drones are reshaping the modern battlefields in Ukraine and Gaza, the Pentagon has been tasked with finding a budget-friendly solution to eliminate these “flying IEDs.” While missiles are too expensive, and laser beams are a distant dream, the next best cost-effective weapon US military officials are eyeing up could be electromagnetic pulse weapons to counter drone swarms.
According to the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) website, the US Air Force has published a contract opportunity for private industry titled “Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Defense Against Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).”
The service outlined the drone-killing features of the new EMP weapon it is seeking:
“The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RI) is conducting market research to seek information from industry on the landscape of research and development (R&D) for available Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) solutions towards countering multiple Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). EMP solutions could be ground and/or aerial based that provide effective mitigation against Department of Defense (DoD) UAS groups 1, 2, and smaller group 3 aircraft.”
As for an aerial-based EMP weapon, the service explained:
“Any EMP solutions hosted on air vehicles will have to be determined to be air-worthy by the Government. DoD must comply with the following general restrictions on UAS: 1. The air vehicle must be based on or derived from US components and electronics. 2. The air vehicle must have sufficient flight hours and reliability data.”
The proposed EMP weapon would be able to neutralize drones with a directed EMP blast to damage the electronic parts – this is a much cheaper solution than missiles that cost tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands, a piece.