Recent reports of private drones being flown above active wildfires again makes me lose another dollop of faith in the brainpower of my fellow citizens. Why anyone would want to endanger the fire attack spotters and tankers fighting the fire is beyond me. So I started noodling on how to solve the problem. The easiest would be for either the OV-10 spotter or a ground-based unit to just zap the drone with directed EMP. That would fry enough of the drone’s electronics to bring it down.
From some back of the envelope calcs, such a ‘weapon’ would not be bigger than a small refrig to have a directional beamwidth sufficient to concentrate the EMP’s energy to an altitude of about one or two thousand feet above ground level. When a rogue drone is spotted, the incident commander is notifed and queried as to its legitimacy; and if illegitimate, it is zapped.
Then I googled ‘directed EMP’ and got a snootful. It’s not a surprise that a lot of people have been thinking about various versions of such a device. For example, here.
Now you would think that DARPA would already have put out a couple or three contracts to create such a portable, short range, directed EMP device for military purposes if nothing else. But as an old electronics engineer, it seems to me that such a gizmo could also be developed in your garage were you of a mind. Who knows, there might arise a lively market for the Mk1Mod2 Drone Zapper all across America as people begin to see unknown drones hovering around their properties. Think of all the legal ramifications if such drones start showing up missing. Can privacy be a legal justification for zapping a drone hovering outside your window or over your house? Is it legal to remove a bug you discover in your house, or a surreptitiously placed surveillance camera in your yard, or a hovering drone outside your window?
How about self-defense? ‘The damn thing came down at us at a threatening angle, we didn’t know what its intent was or what it would do, so we zapped it.’
Anyway, I think the DZ may be the coming thing at a fire house, police department, or at a neighbor with an attitude. Who knows, maybe someone has already built one, we know the Russians have. Rumors and reports abound as to how something that was probably a more powerful and less directed EMP weapon, mounted on a Russian Sukhoi fighter which then ‘attacked’ and compromised major electronics systems on a US destroyer in the Black Sea. I’d bet the ranch that the Pentagon is at least developing systems of equivalent or greater capability. Creating EMPs with a nuclear explosion is so yesterday.
Anyway, keep checking your Hammacher-Schlemmer (say that fast three times) catalog for a Christmas gift this year for that buddy who has everything.