India Said Building Microwave
Beam Weapon

MUMBAI - The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Barc) here is in the final stages of assembling a powerful electron accelerating machine named ''Kali-5000`` which, its scientists say, can potentially be used as a beam weapon.
Bursts of microwaves packed with gigawatts of power (one gigawatt is 1000 million watts) produced by this machine, when aimed at enemy missiles and aircraft, will cripple their electronics systems and computer chips and bring them down.
According to scientists, ''soft killing`` by high power microwaves has advantages over the so called laser weapon which destroys by drilling holes through metal.
Kali-5000 will be ready for testing by the end of this year, according to Mr P H Ron, head of the accelerator and pulse power division at Barc and chief designer of India`s first star wars weapon.
However, in the present form India`s beam weapon is too bulky - it weighs 26 tonnes - including tanks containing 12000 litres of oil. Mr Ron said some ''compacting`` was possible.
He said Kali (kilo-ampere linear injector) machine was developed for industrial applications and that the defence use was a recent spinoff. He, however, declined to elaborate.
Describing it as a machine ''bordering basic research,`` Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Rajagopalan Chidambaram admitted in an interview that it has military potential. ''There are some technologies we have to be in touch with because they may become useful (later),`` he said.
Development of the Kali machine was mooted in 1985 by Dr Chidambaram, then director of Barc, but work earnestly began in 1989.
Mr Ron said the machine essentially generated pulses of highly energetic electrons. Other components in the machine down the line converted the electrons into flash x-rays (for ultra high-speed photography) or microwaves. The electron beam itself can be used for welding.
The Defence Balistics Research Institute in Chandigarh is already using an x-ray version of Kali to study speed of projectiles.
WORK IN BANGALORE: Another defence institute in Bangalore is using a microwave-producing version of Kali which the scientists use for testing the vulnerability of the electronic systems going into the light combat aircraft under development and designing electrostatic shields to protect them from microwave attack by the enemy.
According to Barc scientists, the Kali machine has for the first time provided India a way to ''harden`` the electronic systems used in satellites and missiles against the deadly electromagnetic impulses (Emi) generated by nuclear weapons.
The Emi wrecks havoc by creating intense electric field of several thousand volts per centimetre. The electronic components currently used in missiles can withstand fields of Just 300 volts per centimetre.
While the Kali systems built so far are single shot pulse power systems (they produce one burst of microwaves and the next burst comes much later), Kali-5000 is a rapid fire device, and hence its potential as a beam weapon.
According to Barc-published reports, the machine will shoot several thousand bursts of microwaves, each burst lasting for just 60 billionths of a second and packed with a power of about four gigawatts.
The high power microwave pulses travel in a straight line and do not dissipate their energy if the frequency falls between three and ten gigahertz.
According to Barc scientists, a microwave power of 150 megawatts has already been demonstrated in earlier versions of Kali.
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