China has achieved a technological breakthrough that could help introduce pulse weapons to the People’s Liberation Army’s arsenal, reports the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.
According to the report, the Xian Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has successfully developed a third-generation X-ray pulsar simulation source. The technology, which can create an X-ray pulsar source in X-ray tubes to generate arbitrary waveform pulses, officially passed evaluation tests on Jan. 17.
The evaluation committee found that the creation’s performance indicators were at an advanced international level and concluded that it is an advanced technology with original and practical applications that could lead to important economic and social benefits.
An X-ray pulsar consists of a magnetized neutron star in orbit with a normal stellar companion and is a type of binary star system. They are a class of astronomical objects that are X-ray sources displaying strict periodic variations in X-ray intensity with ranges that can vary from microseconds to several minutes.
As a natural beacon, X-ray pulsars have important applications in aerospace, astronomy, science and engineering. In terms of military applications, simulated X-ray pulsars may help China develop new weapons that can challenge America’s dominance in the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons sphere.
Traditional non-nuclear EMPs weapons produce a short burst of electromagnetic energy to disrupt or damage electronic equipment. Nuclear EMP weapons, which have been dubbed “the second atomic bomb,” have a much wider range of impact as they produce an abrupt pulse of electromagnetic radiation resulting from a nuclear explosion. The electromagnetic pulse from non-nuclear EMP weapons come from within the weapon, while nuclear weapons generate EMP as a secondary effect. In terms of military applications, a nuclear EMP would be delivered via a nuclear warhead detonated hundreds of kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
EMP weapons have begun to find more practical applications in top militaries around the world. During the 1991 Gulf War, the US carried and used EMP weapons on its E-8 Joint Stars aircraft to disrupt electronic command systems, which international analysts believe was one of the main advantages the US had over its enemy. In July 1992, high-powered microwave weapons were named as one of six key future arms technologies by the US Congress, with the US Navy, Army and Air Force each putting forth a high-powered microwave weapons development plan.
In March 1999, the US used microwave weapons during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, causing communication in certain areas to be disrupted for more than three hours. EMP weapons were then used to sever Iraqi state television broadcast signals in March 2003 during the Iraq War.
Apart from the US and Russia, countries developing high-powered microwave weapons include England, France, Germany and Japan.