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Electronic Warfare and Radar Systems Engineering Handbook
- EMP / Aircraft Dimensions -

[Go to TOC]


An aircraft flying in the vicinity of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) acts like a receiving antenna and picks up EMP radiation in relation to size like a dipole (or half-wavelength dipole). The electromagnetic pulse spectrum decreases above 1 MHz as shown in Figure 1, so an F-14 aircraft that is an optimum ½ wavelength antenna at ~8 MHz will pick up less EMP voltage than a B-52 or an aircraft with a trailing wire antenna. A rule of thumb for the voltage picked up is :

VEMP = 8.1 volts/ft times the maximum dimension of the aircraft in feet

This rule of thumb was generated because a single linear relationship between voltage and aperture seemed to exist and compared favorably with more complex calculations for voltage picked up by various aircraft when subjected to EMP.

Table 1 shows various aircraft and the frequencies they would be most susceptible to, using f = c/8, where 8 matches the selected aircraft dimension for maximum "antenna reception effect". This should be a design consideration when trying to screen onboard avionics from the effects of EMP.

The following is a partial listing of aircraft types vs identifying prefix letters (several are used in Table 1):
A   Attack
B   Bomber
C   Cargo
E   Electronic Surveillance
F   Fighter
H   Helicopter
K   Tanker
O   Observation
P   Patrol
Q  Special mission
R   Reconnaissance
S   Anti Sub/Ship
T   Trainer
U   Utility
V   Vertical or Short Takeoff
     and Landing (V/STOL)
X   Experimental
Y   Prototype


EMP as a Function of Frequency  - RF Cafe

Figure 1. EMP as a Function of Frequency




Table of Contents for Electronics Warfare and Radar Engineering Handbook
Introduction | Abbreviations | Decibel | Duty Cycle | Doppler Shift | Radar Horizon / Line of Sight | Propagation Time / Resolution | Modulation | Transforms / Wavelets | Antenna Introduction / Basics | Polarization | Radiation Patterns | Frequency / Phase Effects of Antennas | Antenna Near Field | Radiation Hazards | Power Density | One-Way Radar Equation / RF Propagation | Two-Way Radar Equation (Monostatic) | Alternate Two-Way Radar Equation | Two-Way Radar Equation (Bistatic) | Jamming to Signal (J/S) Ratio - Constant Power [Saturated] Jamming | Support Jamming | Radar Cross Section (RCS) | Emission Control (EMCON) | RF Atmospheric Absorption / Ducting | Receiver Sensitivity / Noise | Receiver Types and Characteristics | General Radar Display Types | IFF - Identification - Friend or Foe | Receiver Tests | Signal Sorting Methods and Direction Finding | Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR) / Reflection Coefficient / Return Loss / Mismatch Loss | Microwave Coaxial Connectors | Power Dividers/Combiner and Directional Couplers | Attenuators / Filters / DC Blocks | Terminations / Dummy Loads | Circulators and Diplexers | Mixers and Frequency Discriminators | Detectors | Microwave Measurements | Microwave Waveguides and Coaxial Cable | Electro-Optics | Laser Safety | Mach Number and Airspeed vs. Altitude Mach Number | EMP/  Aircraft Dimensions | Data Busses | RS-232 Interface | RS-422 Balanced Voltage Interface | RS-485 Interface | IEEE-488 Interface Bus (HP-IB/GP-IB) | MIL-STD-1553 & 1773 Data Bus |
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