Chinese researchers have introduced a groundbreaking high-power microwave (HPM) weapon, powered by a Stirling engine, representing a notable advancement in directed-energy warfare. The innovation employs four compact Stirling engines to convert thermal energy into mechanical energy, facilitating the generation of potent HPM waves. These waves are capable of effectively neutralizing drones, military aircraft, and satellites.
Reports indicate that the HPM weapon, featuring Stirling engine technology, is the first of its kind to be publicly revealed. It is noted for its superconducting coil, capable of generating a magnetic field of up to four teslas, resulting in significantly lower energy consumption compared to existing technologies. According to SCMP, this system can operate continuously for four hours, consuming only a fifth of the energy required by previous methods.
The development of this weapon system is a direct response to sanctions imposed by the United States, which prohibited the export of advanced superconducting materials to China in 2018. This ban prompted an increased demand for domestic suppliers, resulting in notable advancements in the field.
Directed-energy weapons, encompassing lasers and HPMs, are regarded as the future of anti-drone and anti-satellite warfare. Despite facing challenges such as low efficiency and limited range, recent technological advancements have started to mitigate these issues, rendering HPMs increasingly feasible for battlefield deployment.
These advancements indicate the potential significance of HPM weapons in future urban warfare scenarios, particularly in the event of a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Taiwan's military is actively preparing for urban warfare and bolstering its asymmetric warfare capabilities, underscoring the strategic value of such weapons in minimizing collateral damage and overcoming defensive measures.
However, the potential impact of HPM weapons on altering the course of a conflict may be limited. Reports stress the pivotal role of robust political leadership and social cohesion within Taiwan as crucial factors in resisting an invasion, suggesting that technological advancements alone may not be decisive in determining the outcome of such a scenario.
Image source: Times of India