High Power Microwave Weapons: Disruptive Technology for the Future is an Air Command and Staff College paper by Jack McGonegal, USAF.

As the Department of Defense focuses on near-peer competition, there’s a drive to develop technologies that can provide the U.S. with a strategic edge. The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) has been at the forefront of designing, building, and testing such technologies, but not all have transitioned to operational use. One such technology is High Power Microwaves (HPM).

HPM technology has been under development for over three decades, witnessing notable size, weight, and power improvements. Initially, these weapons were large ground-based systems. However, by 2012, advancements allowed AFRL to integrate HPMs onto airborne platforms. Since then, AFRL has continued to advance this technology.

HPMs offer a chance to revisit a previous nuclear targeting strategy known as countervalue strikes. They can target assets critical to national survival while minimizing collateral damage. This capability can deter potential adversaries or compel them to alter their actions, positioning HPMs as disruptive technologies essential for maintaining the U.S.’s competitive advantage.

Publication Date– Spring 2020

High Power Microwave Weapons: Disruptive Technology for the Future contains the following major sections:

  • High Power Microwaves
  • Previous HPM Platforms/Capabilities
  • Deploying Future HPM Platforms
  • HPM Intelligence Support Requirements
  • HPMs as a Coercive Instrument
  • HPM Countervalue Targeting

This document is approved for public release. A link to the document’s location can be found below. All credit goes to the author.

Post Image- Aerial view of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia (Image Credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Marisol Walker)