Survivalists have been encouraging people to buy vehicles that were manufactured prior to the time when electronic ignition systems and/or computer controls were added so that when "The Big One" hits, the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) from a nuclear blast will not shut down their vehicles. In doing so, if you live through the event, you will at least still have serviceable transportation. Getting gasoline from a pumping station will be impossible since those computers will be dead, but there will be a lot of disabled vehicles sitting around with tanks full of gas for sale. Capitalizing on the vulnerability of modern cars and trucks - and even boats, motorcycles, and snowmobiles for that matter - to being stopped cold by a powerful electromagnetic field, military and law enforcement agencies are developing systems that simulate the results of a nuclear EMP event, only without the skin melting side effects. British conglomerate e2v has introduced RF Safe-Stop™ to do just that. The current system is contained in a big rack that sits in the back of a pickup truck.
Per the e2v website:
"RF Safe-Stop™ generates a non-lethal pulsed beam to temporarily deactivate a vehicle’s engine. It transmits a non-lethal microwave energy pulsed beam that couples into the vehicle’s electronic systems to confuse the engine management system, temporarily deactivating the engine. It is designed to be a part of a defensive capability in security situations, providing a non-lethal assistance to the process of bringing vehicles, determined to pose a threat, to a halt, without the requirement for lethal force."
e2v will not disclose specifics on the design or the frequencies and pulse shapes utilized; however, the Engineer magazine reports the device uses L- and S-band radio frequencies, and works at a range of up to 50 m (164'). Per their engineers, the frequencies were chosen in part because the wavelengths (L-band λ ~ 0.15-0.30 m = 6-12 in., S-band λ ~ 0.07-0.15 m = 3-6 in.) are optimal based on the typical wire length for targeted interconnects.
In addition to the main criticism of systems such as RF Safe-Stop™ being use in other than war zones (which includes areas subject to terrorist activity) because of the strong-arm nature of governments against civilians, there is also concern about the danger of instantly disabling all computer-controlled functions in a vehicle being driven by an unsuspecting fleeing perp. Will it veer out of control or will its power-assisted steering and braking system cause collateral damage as with the Government Motors (GM) cars that recently experienced ignition switch failures and killed their occupants?
The first high energy ignition (HEI) systems began appearing in the mid 1970s, and on-board diagnostic (ODB) systems were mandated in all consumer vehicles beginning in 1994. So, to be safe you should buy a car - preferably a truck per survivalists - that was manufactured prior to around 1970. Oh, and make sure some gear head hasn't replaced the original coil, condenser, and points distributor with an aftermarket electronic ignition system that will still leave you in the EMP wake. Personally, I would love to have a 1951 Ford F1 pickup truck like the one featured in the Sanford & Son TV series (one of my favorites).
BTW, e2v is a great electronic company that develops top-of-the-line defense, medical, aerospace, and security products. It is the governments' uses of their and similar companies' war-fighting technology against civilian populations that troubles people. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, November 11, 1755.
Posted April 24, 2014