Military tech using fireballs?

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Military tech using fireballs?

On 2 April 1993, the front page of the newspaper Izvestia carried a story on President Bush’s proposed sharing of Star Wars technology.

In exchange for details of the American SDI system, the Russians offered information on their own plans. These included high-power microwave generators whose beams were directed to intersect at high altitude.

At the point where the beams cross, the combined field is so intense that air molecules are ripped apart to create plasma, the stuff of lightning. The microwaves would maintain a ‘plasmoid’ – a stable ball of plasma – in the path of an oncoming missile. Running into it at high velocity, the missile would be destroyed by a combination of thermal, magnetic and ærodynamic effects.

Western analysts were dubious, but the Russians are known to have experimented extensively with high-powered microwave weapons, and they are some years ahead in this area2.

It has even been suggested that some Russian installations identified as phased-array radar could have microwave projection capability. This might provide some local defence for Moscow; not an invulnerable shield, but enough to sow doubt in any opponent considering a first strike against the Kremlin.

The same principle was tried as an experimental form of street lighting in the Soviet Union in the 1960s3. The project was abandoned because of the plasmoid’s tendency to be attracted to passing aircraft.

American military scientists followed a similar path using lasers in the 1980s4. Using intersecting beams of infrared or microwave frequency, they found they could create a glowing sphere.

Repeating the laser pulses produced a continuous light with a loud crackling, hissing sound. This light could be moved around by moving the beams, but what intrigued the scientists most was that the sound could be altered by changing the laser pulses.

With some refinements it could be modulated at will, with high enough fidelity to carry a human voice. In 1991, it was proposed that the talking fireball should be put to use in the Gulf, appearing as the Voice of Allah and calling on Iraqi troops to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The idea was rejected by military planners5, but the technology is still available.
By sandman: posted on 29-11-2002

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