(Note: Talk-radio icon George Noory, whose “Coast to Coast AM” show is the biggest overnight draw in North America, is so concerned about the issue of EMP attacks that he has launched a campaign with WND to work on persuading Congress to take action.)

WASHINGTON – Though the U. S. government has been slow to protect America’s electrical grid from a potentially catastrophic electromagnetic event, it appears the Chinese are working to guard their own, as demonstrated by an ongoing drill the People’s Liberation Army is running until mid-August.

The drill is designed to determine how the PLA will respond in the event of an attack including the use of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, from a foreign country. Right now, the most likely suspect would be the United States, in the eyes of the PLA, since Beijing and Moscow seem to be getting even more closely intertwined economically as well as militarily.

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These drills, which the Chinese military describes as the largest ever, have already disrupted flights at major Chinese airports. For example, one of the exercises was a simulated EMP attack targeting communications and radar systems. In the simulated attacks the official army newspaper said there were “heavy airstrikes,” including “electronic disturbance teams” and “chemical weapons drills.”

Because of simulated air assaults, these drills are greatly affecting flights at Chinese airports near the country’s east coast.

The naval portion of the drill is said to involve China’s East, North and South fleets. In addition, all airborne and ground missile units of the PLA Air Force are being deployed.

Col. Chen Hong, a former professor at the PLA Air Force College, told The Daily Telegraph the deployments are unprecedented.

“The exercises show that our nation has the ability to defend ourselves against any invasion,” Col. Chen said. “They are a deterrent to countries around us.”

“The fate of the nation has never been so closely linked to the strength and weakness of the army, and the victories and defeats on the battlefield as it is today,” said the PLA Daily newspaper.

Being a nuclear power, China knows about the impact of an EMP on its electronics and appears to be taking measures to deal with such an attack.

China’s preparations could have a thwarting effect on any U.S. attempt to take out communications and air-defense systems with its current electromagnetic array of weapons.

For example, in any offensive effort on the battlefield, the U.S. could unleash EMP weapons that don’t require a nuclear explosion, such as a type of radar called an active electronically scanned array, or AESA, which emits intensive microwaves. A beam from an AESA scrambles its target’s electronics, similar to the effects of an EMP from a nuclear detonation. Depending on the AESA’s strength, it can be effective at considerable distances, without endangering the aircraft equipped with the AESA radar.

There are small and large AESAs. Larger ones fit on ships, while smaller ones fit in the nose of the F-22 Raptor and the latest F-35 stealth joint strike fighter. The AESAs on board the F-35 can stop air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. Ground-or ship-based AESAs can attack ballistic missiles and aircraft.

The U.S. Navy deployed in Middle East waters and off the coast of China is now employing offensive EMP capabilities to the Boeing Growler, a modified F-18 Super Hornet with the designation EA-18G airborne electronic attack aircraft.

The Growler will be the cornerstone of naval airborne electronic attacks, capable of suppressing enemy air defenses and initiate electromagnetic pulse attacks on enemy positions.

It is apparent from the comments of Chinese officials that the PLA is attempting to develop a counter to such a capability. Success in having such a counter-measure would cripple the surprise capability that U.S. strike aircraft have employed in the past in Iraq and potentially against communications and missile defenses of a country such as Iran or China.

While the U.S. knows about the effects of an EMP and has incorporated it in offensive weapons and hardened electronics to protect military technologies, it hasn’t done the same for the vulnerable national grid system or the life-staining critical infrastructures which rely on it.

This development makes the U.S. grid system highly vulnerable to either a naturally occurring direct hit from a massive solar flare or man-made attack from a high-altitude nuclear explosion.

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security hasn’t yet included an EMP attack, whether natural or man-made, as part of its 15 National Planning Scenarios implemented in case of a catastrophic event.

This omission leaves communities across the United States especially vulnerable, since local emergency first responders and law enforcement look to DHS for such direction. Consequently, state and local communities across the United States are likely to be unprepared for an EMP event.

See the big list of EMP reports from WND.

F. Michael Maloof, senior staff writer for WND/ G2Bulletin, is a former security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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