Electronic Weapons: Ray Gun Radio

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June 20, 2007: The U.S. Air Force has successfully tested having an AESA radar double as a communications device, transmitting data from an aircraft, via its radar, to a ground station. The speed of transmission was about a hundred times faster than a typical high speed Internet connection (2-3 megabit DSL). Using AESA like this takes a big load off satellite communications, and allows aircraft to send video from their cameras, directly to ground stations.

AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar also can track vehicles on land, and ships at sea. Such radars are already installed in JSTARS aircraft, Global Hawk UAVs and many fighters. AESA radar consists of thousands of tiny radars that can be independently aimed in different directions. A sufficiently powerful AESA radar can also focus enough energy to damage aircraft or missiles. The U.S. has already been doing this with the high-powered microwave (HPM) effects generated by similar AESA radars used in F18, F35 and F22 aircraft. This is sort of like the EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) put out by nuclear weapons. AESA has demonstrated that it can disable missiles and aircraft. AESA in a Global Hawk could disable electronics on the ground.

 


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