An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack is a short burst of electromagnetic energy that can be caused by either an intentional attack or a naturally occurring geomagnetic disturbance (GMD). Intentional EMP attacks can use nuclear or non-nuclear weapons and are detonated at high altitudes with the intention of disabling electronic devices over a large area. This powerful wave of energy causes dramatic voltage surges in electrical systems, resulting in the shutdown of large areas of electrical networks, systems, and devices. It can also physically damage objects such as buildings and aircraft.
Managing EMP effects is a branch of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) engineering. As I discovered after sending an open registration request to the city adjacent to my property, most local and national government agencies in the United States are not prepared for an EMP attack. In the EMP war, the advantage lies with the first to attack, since the attack has a paralyzing effect on the vital systems of the target country, with limited second-strike capacity. Contrary to popular belief, rebel states or terrorists do not need a sophisticated intercontinental ballistic missile to carry out an EMP attack.
In fact, any missile, including short-range missiles that can launch a nuclear warhead at an altitude of 30 kilometers or more, can launch a catastrophic electromagnetic attack against the United States, launching it from a ship or a freighter. Some types of electromagnetic phenomena can leave an optical trail, such as lightning and sparks, but these are side effects of current flow through the air and are not part of the EMP itself. In fact, Iran has carried out EMP attacks launched from ships carrying Scud missiles, which are in the possession of dozens of countries and even terrorist groups.