The US Army wants to create electro-magnetic pulse grenades to disable improvised explosives.
The weapons - which as Wired points out sound like something from Halo rather than real life - would overwhelm the simple electronics on homemade bombs in a small area by unleashing a wave of electro-magnetic energy.
The High Power Microwave (HPM) grenades would be "non-lethal", the US Army says in a proposal.
The Army said:
"These are non-lethal grenades that generate an electromagnetic pulse that could be used to defeat the electronics used to activate IEDs or that could be used to attack blasting caps.
"In order to minimize the impact of added mass, training, etc. on the individual soldier, these munitions should fit into existing form factors such as hand or robot delivered munitions, 40 mm grenades, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), and Stinger, Hydra, and Javelin missiles."
The solicitation, available online, suggests that the grenades might be made with "energy stored in ferromagnetic, ferroelectric or superconducting materials", which would be released when the grenade explodes.
The army also raised the possibility that the grenades could be used by police as well as the military:
Since IEDs know no boundaries, we have already seen them in use in the US. Therefore, these same non-lethal munitions would benefit the bomb squads of local, state, and federal law enforcement.
One specific application that would be of benefit to both the military and law enforcement is room clearing of IEDs to minimize the threat to our soldiers and law enforcement agents and occupants of the building assuming there was no IED present."
It's early days for this kind of grenade, however. The army still has to prove the concept can work, and fit it to a device able to be thrown by a soldier. It's also unclear whether it would affect friendly soldiers' own equipment - or whether it would be able to attack bombs with mechanical release systems, rather than electronic ones.Suggest a correction