KALI (electron accelerator)
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The KALI (Kilo Ampere Linear Injector) is a linear electron accelerator being developed in India by the Defence Research Development Organization (DRDO) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). It is not a laser weapon as commonly believed. It is designed to work in such a way that if an enemy missile is launched in Indian direction, it will quickly emit powerful pulses of Relativistic Electron Beams (REB) and destroy the target. Unlike laser beams, it does not bore a hole in the target but thoroughly damages the on-board electronic systems.
Scientists say that it can potentially be used as a beam weapon. Bursts of microwaves packed with gigawatts of power (one gigawatt is 1000 million watts) produced by this machine, when aimed at enemy missiles and aircraft will cripple their electronic system and computer chips and bring them down right away.
The Kali is a particle accelerator. It emits powerful pulses of electrons (Relativistic Electron Beams- REB). Other components in the machine down the line convert the electron energy into EM Radiation, which can be adjusted to x-ray (as Flash X-Rays) or microwave (High Power Microwave) frequencies.
This has fueled hopes that the KALI could, one day be used in a High-Power Microwave gun, which could destroy incoming missiles and aircraft through soft-kill (destroying the electronic circuitry on the missile). However, weaponising such a system has many obstacles to overcome.
The Kali project was first Founded by Dr. P.H. Ron, and mooted in 1985 by the then Director of the BARC, Dr. R. Chidambaram. Work on the Project began in 1989, being developed by the Accelerators & Pulse Power Division of the BARC. (Dr. Chidambaram was also the Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission). DRDO is also involved with this project. It was initially developed for industrial applications, although defence applications became clearer later.
The first accelerators had a power of ~0.4GW, which increased as later versions were developed. These were the KALI 80, KALI 200, KALI 1000, KALI 5000 and KALI 10000.
The KALI-5000 was commissioned for use in late 2004.
The KALI series (KALI 80, KALI 200, KALI 1000, KALI 5000 and KALI 10000) of accelerators are described as "Single Shot Pulsed Gigawatt Electron Accelerators". They are single shot devices, using water filled capacitors to build the charge energy. The discharge is in the range of 1GW. Initially starting with 0.4GW power, present accelerators are able to reach 40GW. Pulse time is about 60 ns.
The Microwave radiations emitted by the KALI-5000 are in the 3–5 GHz Range
KALI – 5000: This system is designed to produce electron pulses of about 100 ns with an energy of about 1 MeV, current 40 kA and a power of 40 GW. This Relativistic Electron Beams (REB) thus generated will be used for the generation of High Power Microwaves (HPM) & Flash X Rays (FXR).
The KALI has been put to various uses by the DRDO. The DRDO was involved in configuring the KALI for their use.
The X-rays emitted are being used in Ballistics research as an illuminator for ultrahigh speed photography by the Terminal Ballistics Research Institute (TBRL) in Chandigarh. The Microwave emissions are used for EM Research.
The microwave-producing version of KALI has also been used by the DRDO scientists for testing the vulnerability of the electronic systems of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), which was then under development.
It has also helped in designing electrostatic shields to "harden" the LCA and missiles from microwave attack by the enemy as well as protecting satellites against deadly Electromagnetic Impulses (EMI) generated by nuclear weapons and other cosmic disturbances, which "fry" and destroy electronic circuits. Electronic components currently used in missiles can withstand fields of approx. 300 V/cm, while the fields in case of EMI attack reach thousands of V/cm.
As a Weapon
The KALI's potential for a military role as a beam weapon has made it, in the eyes of China, a threat. However, weaponisation of the KALI will take some time. The system is still under development, and efforts are being made to make it more compact as well as improve its recharge time, which, at the present, makes it only a single use system.
There are also issues with creating a complete system, which would require development of many more components. There have been reports of placing the weaponized KALI in an Il-76 aircraft as an airborne defence system.
- "India to test beam weapon". Competition Science Journal. Mahendra Jain. October 1999 (20): 980–981. 1999.
- BARC Director's speech on October 29 2004 celebrating Dr. Homi Bhabha's 95th Birth Anniversary
- BARC page on KALI
- "Beam Technology Development Group -Accelerator and Pulse Power Division: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre ( BARC )". www.barc.gov.in. Retrieved 2017-04-04.