After using lasers, projectiles, and jammers in the fight against roadside bombs, the Pentagon last week unveiled a secret new weapon designed to defeat IEDs: radio waves. The new weapon, a beam of radio-frequency energy, can detonate IEDs from a distance and could potentially be used against other types of warheads as well. Few further details are available, because military researchers are keeping the highly classified technology under wraps, Popular Mechanics reports.
Using high-powered beams to ignite explosives from a distance is an old idea, but delivering enough energy fast enough to cause an explosion has long been a problem. Radio-frequency devices can give off highly powerful short-term energy blasts, and the radio waves used in the new device have the advantage over laser beams that they can penetrate surface materials, making them more effective against concealed explosives.