What is the likelihood of an EMP attack?

  1. I was wondering -- what are the chances of someone getting away with an EMP attack? What measures is the US taking to prevent such an attack?

    The way I see it there are three scenarios that are more likely to happen: a) the attacker attempts to fly into the United States, the US sees an airplane that is not authorized to enter US airspace, then either shoots the attacker or uses neutrinos b) the attacker attempts to place the bomb onto an airplane, but the bomb is then found and quarantined by the TSA c) the bombis successfully loaded onto a US airplane, however someone catches the bomb being loaded. That person then calls the police, then the police relay the message to the armed forces.
  2. jcsd
  3. Uses neutrinos? To do what? Not interact with him/her and the aircraft?
    Umm, you do realise how you produce a sizeable EMP? It's not simple and you'd be looking at something along the lines of a nuclear detonation - not easy to produce, let alone perform.

    Put simply, the chances are slim to none and it's so low you really don't need to do that much to protect against it.

    Shielding can be applied to critical areas if necessary, but let's face it, if there's an EMP along the lines you're talking about, I'd be more concerned about what produced it and if that's a threat to me (in other words, where's the nuke gone off).
  4. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    While a nuke is not the ONLY way to generate an EMP, it IS the only way to generate a large scale EMP that would disrupt large areas.

    My opinion is that the risk of an EMP attack is so low that there is effectively no need to do anything to protect from it. Note that many things in the military already have EMP protection thanks to the arms race with the USSR back in the day.
  5. You may want to re-evaluate your positions as with Iran getting the ICBMs from China and developing nukes within the next two years, paired with the suicidal nature of radical Muslim beliefs the EMP threat is growing. Just a small nuclear device optimized for gamma emission detonated at 30-300 miles above Kansas would decimate the power grids of most of the USA, detonated over Virginia would remove power from all of the most dense population centers in the USA. Everyone predicates prevention on the other side wanting to live through it, what if they don't?
  6. As for a terrorist EMP attack:

    I hardly believe that any terrorist who gets his hand on a nuclear device of considerable size would skip the chance to incinerate a large city just to cripple the energy supply and most of the consumer electronics in one country.

    The point of terrorism is fear. I think the disappearance of a city with millions of inhabitants is way more frightening to the population than living in the fifties again for a couple of months / years.

    Plus it's probably MUCH harder for any terrorist to detonate his bomb in the sky and generate a sufficient impulse than loading it into a truck and parking it next to a cities townhall.

    So, don't fear EMP terrorism. It's probably rather unlikely. But as for extremist states with nukes such as Iran and (maybe soon) Pakistan - who knows. The possibility there is certainly higher.
  7. You mean the 1850's? remember. no electricity means no gasoline pumps. No gasoline/diesel pumps means no trucks, no trucks, no food and other supplies. Maybe 50% of the cars not working, no refrigeration. Go turn off the main switch in your house for a week, and live there, then come back and tell me it wouldn't induce terror. it would bring the entire USA to its knees, not just one city.
  8. perhaps you haven't been following the news lately. Iran has purchased ICBMs from China. Their other brothers in terror already have the bomb, and probably in a small enough package to fit that Chinese ICBM. You take out one city, lets say Atlanta, you get 7 million dead. We morn, we put up danger signs around the crater and in one year we get on with it. You do an EMP attack and you will get several times that number of dead over the first few months and will reduce the USA to third world status instantly. That status will last several years because we don't manufacture the needed transformers to rebuild the infrastructure here in the USA and they have an 18 month lead time.
  9. But you need an EMP covering the whole country, not just one area, to achieve that.

    So you shouldn't compare it with nuking just one city. It's more like nuking every large city in the country.
  10. Put a nuke on an ICBM and loft it to 300 miles high you got the whole USA in your sites for an EMP

    detailed EMP article
  11. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Don't forget that that we can destroy a missile headed towards the US. Also, where would they deploy this missile from? Surely you are not suggesting that they can fire a missile from Iran and have it land in the middle of the US? It can't even get close.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/05/31/iran-nuclear-warheads/#ixzz1piKYToF6

    Once you know the facts, you realize that there is no threat to the US.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  12. Not if it launches from a freighter right outside the international limit. Or from a container ship, or an oil tanker...
  13. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    And the possibility of this is?

    I know you are a good person, but you are needlessly scaring yourself by reading improbable scenarios on scare mongering sites.

    Perhaps this will ease your mind.

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  14. And you're living in a fantasy world with Unicorns and friendly elves...who would have given odds on terrorists stealing 3 commercial airliners on the same day and then flying them into US buildings?
  15. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    No, I understand reality. Read the wiki link in my previous post. Please remember that we have rules here against overly speculative, baseless posts. I'm truly sorry that you needlessly live in fear of such things. I can't tell you what to believe but I will try to point you to the facts so you can decide for yourself.
  16. During the cold war I read an article in Scientific American that the Soviet Union's best strategy in attacking the US would be have the first missiles explode high in the atmosphere, reducing the warning time for a counter attack, creating an EMP and pinning our missiles down. Successive missiles would explode at lower and lower altitudes.
  17. A question for anybody. Let me get this straight. The detonation of a nuclear device some kilometers above an area (not that I'm particularly worried about that happening wrt my area, or any area, for that matter, in the foreseeable future) can fry electrical/electronic stuff?
  18. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Well the obvious point is that they can't reach us to begin with.
  19. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Please post the sources that say they had the ability, you should know the rules by now.

    This is why the US was concerned about Cuba allowing the Soviet Union to build bases there. Distance, distance, distance.
  20. Baseless?

    1. Iran bought ICBMs capable of reaching the US
    2. North Korea, Pakistan, and who knows who else has nukes are if they could get a suicidal country like Iran to take us out, they would
    3. Iran is perfecting mobile launch platforms, retro fitting a truck or railroad car based system into a ship is easy
    4. Getting a ship to within 50 miles of the US coast is a piece of cake, especially if it is bringing oil.

    It really doesn't even have to be accurately guided as long as it reaches an altitude of around 300 miles and is roughly over the USA heartland.

    The question asked was how likely an EMP event would be, any answer is speculative in nature.
  21. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    The missile sites, communication equipment for them, and missiles here in the US are EMP shielded and already have targeting information loaded. Once the first missile is discovered, or even after it detonates, it is as simple as sending out the commands to launch to the crews in the launch facilities.
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