AESA Radars Used As 'Death Ray' Weapons?

According to Aviation Week, the Pentagon is now developing active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars that could be used as weapons. A bizarre historical twist to this story is that in 1934, a rumor was started to the effect that Nazi Germany had developed a death ray based on radar. Physicist Robert Watson-Watt was asked to check on the feasibility of such a weapon. He quickly determined that it was unlikely, but that using radio waves to locate incoming bombers might be a real possibility. By 1937, three stations were ready, with more to come; this was a key element in winning the Battle of Britain during WWII.


(AESA radar)

Now it appears that AESA radars may have a weapons component. AESA radars are comprised of many small transmit/receive modules that each scan a fixed area; the antenna does not need to move to scan an area. They have an extremely fast scanning rate, higher range, multiple target engagement and can act as a jamming device.

Some of the airborne AESA radars... use thousands of small transmitters/receivers, each a couple of inches square, that allow the array to conduct many tasks simultaneously. Those include detection of small, even stealthy targets, tracking and communications... and "jamming"... Possible AESA techniques for attacking another radar could include burning through the target radar's antenna side-lobes, filter side-lobes, or other known features of the target system. Radar specialists suggest it is reasonable to suppose this capability is already available to some fielded systems...

[Airborne radar weapon development] appear[s] to be focused on cruise missiles and self-defense against anti-radiation, home-on-jam and air-to-air missiles. The radars seem particularly effective against the latter categories because energy available to focus on the approaching missile increases as an inverse square as distance decreases.

High Power Microwaves (HPM) are also in the process of development as weapons. HPMs generate very short bursts of energy across a wider range of frequencies, while AESA produces longer, more directed bursts of energy:

While HPM produces higher peak power, AESA often generates greater average power. That produces different operational and targeting strategies. For example, Raytheon's [HPM-based] airport protection system uses infrared sensors to find the target and determine where to focus its beam. It also produces effects at longer range, possibly as much as 100 mi., because it produces powerful pulses of energy. AESA radar has the built-in ability to find and track a target, so it can be held on the target for the necessary additional microseconds needed to create its weapons effect.

It was a British writer, H.G. Wells, who first suggested the idea of "death rays" - namely, the heat ray in his 1898 novel War of the Worlds. The idea for radar was suggested at a very early date by science fiction writer Hugo Gernsback - he called it an actinoscope in his remarkable 1911 story Ralph 124c 41 +:

A pulsating polarized ether wave, if directed on a metal object can be reflected in the same manner as a light ray is reflected from a bright surface… By manipulating the entire apparatus like a searchlight, waves would be sent over a large area.
(Read more about Hugo Gernsback's actinoscope)

If you are interested in energy beam weapons, take a look at the MTHEL - Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser under development by the US Army. Read more about the 'death ray' story at Military.com; thanks to an alert reader for suggesting this story. The original story in Aviation Week requires paid registration, unfortunately.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/14/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Weapon ")

ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.' - Poul Anderson, 1966.

Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...' - Daniel Suarez, 2012.

Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'- Alfred Bester, 1974.

Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Drywall Robot Looking For Sheetrock
Sheetrockers have sure changed since my day.

Ford's Autonomous Cabs 'Transportation As A Service'
'He was glad to crawl into his autocab and close the cover.'

Sex In Driverless Cars?
'...admirable for petting.'

Amazing Kepler Space Telescope Decommissioned By NASA
'Thus it came about that the search for a planetiferous sun... was not unduly prolonged...'

ODYSSEUS Solar-Powered Stratospheric Plane Flies Forever
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'

Augmented and-or Virtual Reality Shoes From Google
'The auto-treadmill's bumps and gullies matched whatever terrain the goggles showed me...'

Soon, Your Tesla Will Follow You Like A Pet
'... follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'

Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.'

FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'

Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.'

Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."

Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.'

Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.'

ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'

MIT Headset Lets You Communicate Without Speaking
'The subvocal read nerve signals, letting her enter words by just beginning to will them...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.