The US military is hard at work designing, building, and using directed energy weapons (HERFs -- high energy radio frequency or microwave weapons) for use against micro-electronics and fuel vapor. Unfortunately, directed energy weapons are much more valuable to global guerrillas than nation-state militaries due to the target imbalance between nation-states and non-state foes. The technology needed to build these weapons is generally available and inexpensive (numerous experiments, including this one, scroll to bottom, with a converted microwave oven demonstrate this). Homemade directed energy weapons will eventually become the weapon of choice for global guerrillas intent on infrastructure destruction.
A good reference on this is Col. Eileen Walling's "High Power Microwaves: Strategic and Operational Imperatives for Warfare" (PDF). She lists four distinctive characteristics of a microwave weapon:
- They don't rely on knowledge of the system.
- They leave persistant and lasting effects on the system through destruction of circuits and components.
- They can impact systems even when they are turned off.
- To counter the weapon the entire system must be hardened.
Here are some attributes of a microwave weapons:
- Entry to a system can be direct or indirect (through a variety of backdoor channels).
- Destruction occurs from the inside out.
- Extreme lethality for electronic components (and fuel systems).
- Repair is extremely difficult -- it requires high level systems analysis.
- Most systems are not hardened against microwave frequencies.
- Area attacks are possible.
- Insensitive to weather (rain, fog, etc.).
- Long reach depending on power used.
- Replenishment is easy (nothing except power is expended).
- Scalable size (a weapon that weighs less than 10 lbs is possible).
- Logistics are limited to battery/power source replacement.
- Limited collateral damage.