Monday, April 8, 2013

Anti-Weapons Technology

Have obviously been looking at the Korean and other hotspot situations around the globe of late. When negotiations have broken down in the past other ways that have been tried include:
- sanctions/export controls
- pre-emptive strikes (risk of 'dimplomatic incident')
- sabotage of infrastructure experimental/testing sites (various methods but security is often incredibly high now. Sites often have isolated power/environmental system. Key scientists are are placed sometimes placed under permanent guard now depending on environment)
- covert operations (not as simple as it sounds depending on the environment)
- and so on...

On and off for a while now, I've been thinking of something different. It's roughly based on concepts from various different fields such as:
- missle defense
- crumple zones
- force fields
but essentially offers a diferent option for defense.

Modern weapons (there is work on chemical, directed energy, microwave, laser and other weapons but details of these programs are mostly classified) mostly work on the premise of a 'controlled explosion' in the context of direction, range, and magnitude of the subsequent impact.

If we look at current missile defense technology (Typically they work with with a combination of other systems comprised of tracking, interception, and control. Needless to say, they aren't cheap, require extensive training/skill to setup/operate, and with the exception of a few systems aren't all that efficient for the purpose for which they developed.) they basically work by activating missle warheads which are most likely triggered through one or several of the following means:
- Contact
- Proximity
- Remote
- Timed
- Altitude
- Combined

Obviously, success has been limited particularly with longer range projectile interception (high speed, range, multiple warheads, decoys, and so on...). The biggest problem has basically been associated with the so called 'bullet-on-bullet' problem. Namely, trying to hit a projectiles moving at extreme speed with another projectile that are both relatively small.

Previously, I thought about this problem in my 'Convergence' report. Basically a 'colloidal' like solution (can be gas, liquid, or solid)(conceptually it would be similar in principle to using using 'shrapel' or multiple interceptors in the fashion that the Israeli have done in the Tamir interceptor using in the Iron Dome system)  that can/will work based on physical, chemical, or other principles... but let's think about this further. Without range/accuracy/controlled explosions weapons are pointless.

If you flood a known area with highly volatile substances you basically have the same effect as missile interception. Namely, energy dispersal at an area that does not harm valuable targets or people.
The added bonus is that it forms the basis for 'deterrence' without the madness associated with, 'Mutually Assurred Destruction'. Obvious problem is dispersal and control of it particularly in the case of secure installations/bunkers:
- gaseus solution and you run of the risk of having it basically go anywhere especially in the context of outdoor environments (though mid-flight missile defense is significantly easier if there is a cloud of gas which disables incoming weapons than having to deal with 'bullet-on-bullet' type missle defense)
- liquid based and you have the same problem unless there are natural canals/tunnels that you can use
- solid and you have to deal with the problem of camouflage and existing security staff picking it up easily

Other obvious problems include:
- safety in research, development and deployment of such defensive systems as well
- if not deployed correctly is that you run the risk of making the explosion even bigger than it would have been had just the original weapon being deployed (particularly worrying if you have a localised 'shield'). More research required...
- the other problem with this technology is whether or not to disclose your use/development of it (battle between intelligence/defense)?
In the context of control of WMD think about it in the following fashion. If we can find substances that we can secrete into areas that will react with WMD to either render them inert or cause them to explode in an uncontrolled fashion then we finally have the basis for true arms control without the needs for 'inspections'. Not easy though...

At this point we digress to 'force field' technology (not as outlandish as you may think. The British military have been done some succcessful testing of similar concepts to protect some of their vehicles.). Typically they work at the point (or close to) of impact but in principle to what was outlined in the previous section. The more energy is dispersed away (think about 'crumple zones' in cars) and distant from the target the less target will be directed against the original target.

The key problem has always been how to control the shape of 'shields' though. Electromagnetic based/wireless waves are used basically everywhere now. As a child I remember learning about the shape of magnetic fields by playing around with magnetics and ferro-magnetic/iron particles. Take these concepts further. If the field is strong enough we can begin playing around with synthetic/semi-synthetic substances (hopefully small/light enough to 'float' along with/in the field) which can:
- cause the propulsion system (almost always chemically based nowadays though that is beginning to change) of incoming projectices to shut down
- cause an explosion out/away from the target
- otherwise render incoming projectiles inert
Clear problems that we face:
- how much power is required to deploy such a system? Is this level of power realistic or do we need to find/develop more efficient means of energy development? If others aware of possession of such technology do we require increased surveillance or less?
- are there any available substances that fit our parameters?
- if successful we face a 'class break' problem. We might have to completely change our all of our own weapons/propulsion systemns to continue to remain capable of offensive operations. Alternatively, 'tuning' of the technology would have to be required to allow for a 'one way' shield (allows outward but not inwards)...
- if countries are able to find a way of making AWT style technologies 'one way' then others suffer a significant disadvantage and would basically be unable to defend themselves in times of conflict

Clearly, developing AWT is easier said then done. Moreover (like conventional weapons), AWT style technologies have to be deployed/demonstrated to work in the field a number of times for it to have any longer term impact. Conceptually similar to booby trapped ammunition except the impact is far more significant. We basically use the strength of their own weapons/explosives/aggression against the agressor. The other thing that needs to be kept in mind is that the concept of pre-emption and deterrance only works with people of sane mind.

Such AWT style technologies obviously have significant applications:
- especially in the context of conflicts that where the results of intervention are neither guaranteed or the results of intervention are unlikely to be predictable
- conflicts where both a political solution is desired but cessation of fighting can not be guaranteed
- useful for nations that want a defense/deterrent but don't want to pursue WMD style weapons technology
- could form the basis for shields that could be used for yourself, your personal belongings, or even inter-stellar/gallactic travel vehicles
- may be possible to create shields at regional levels or potentially globally to defend against 'rogue states'

Like I said, I'm not going to pretend that any of this is going to be simple. Nonetheless, we seem to have the components there to make this work... Moreover, I believe that while Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction were a necessity during certain periods of human history they clearly represent an indictment upon us. It would be nice to finally have a means of defending ourselves against them.