Military Review

Sound can be another weapon at sea

It is assumed that through the use of sound waves, you can overcome the air gap (literal translation of the English air gap) or, to put it another way, remotely hack electronic devices that do not have access to the network. With such an impact, it would be possible to paralyze the control system of the ship. In this case, instead of using a naval blockade or using anti-ship missiles, the enemy could use harmful sounds.

The term “air gap” in the Russian language replaces the much more stable and correct phrase “physical isolation”. Physical isolation is a measure of network security, which is that a secure computer network must be physically isolated from unsafe networks, such as the Internet or any local area network with a low level of security. Physical isolation applies when a very high level of security is required. At the same time, this mechanism may not be an “air gap” in the literal sense of the word. For example, by using separate cryptographic devices that are able to tunnel traffic through unsafe computer networks, without changing the size of the transmitted packets and without changing the volume of network traffic, you can create a communication channel. Even in this case, computers located on opposite sides of the “air gap” will not be able to communicate with each other.

The plans voiced by the Americans on the impact of sound on the ship’s control systems can lead to blocking the actions of the whole fleet. As noted by retired captain Mark Hudgerott, who is the deputy director of cybersecurity at the US Navy Academy, all modern ships are essentially SCADA floating systems. SCADA - systems of general control and data collection, which are able to manage various operations. The possibility of overcoming the "air gap" could threaten a violation of the balance of forces.

Sound can be another weapon at sea

The fact is that sound waves can be converted into electrical signals that have a harmful meaning. It is assumed that a certain acoustic signal is able to damage the speaker membranes, disrupt their work, forcing to generate an electrical signal consisting of a certain set of zeros and ones that can reprogram most of the controlled computer systems of a modern warship.

National Security Institute analyst Peter Singer believes that by paralyzing the SCADA system, one of the parties gains an advantage by having a very effective non-lethal look. weapons for waging war at sea. "For example, the president may say:" Do not allow a foreign fleet to seize certain islands, but also do not let it unleash full-scale hostilities. " It would be enough just to warn the enemy that if he crosses a certain border, the United States will simply click the toggle switch, after which their ships will be able to sail, but will become helpless, while no one will die, ”said Peter Singer.

In terms of impact, such a weapon could indeed be quite effective. After all, even the well-known American-Israeli virus Stuxnet, which is supposed to have been able to cause a malfunction of the Iranian nuclear program and led to the failure of a large number of centrifuges, required fairly close access. Someone nevertheless launched a virus into the system of the Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz, simply inserted a virus-infected flash drive or plugged in a laptop.

It is rather difficult to judge how realistic such weapons are and what the prospects are for their development. But if we take into account that there has not yet been a sufficiently effective development of acoustic weapons, around which today there are more myths than real facts, although the development of such systems has been underway almost since the First World War, one can experience reasonable doubt about this. The current development of non-lethal acoustic weapons include the American system LRAD - Long Range Acoustic Device (long-range acoustic device). The device really works, is available from the 2000 year, but has its drawbacks and, of course, is not able to reprogram something. The main object of the impact of such an installation is man.

LRAD - Long Range Acoustic Device

In the autumn of 2005, off the coast of Somalia, pirates in high-speed boats surrounded the peaceful cruise ship “Seabourn Spirit”. The pirates were completely confident of their superiority and demanded that the crew of the ship pull the ramp, but in just a few minutes they were forced to abandon their grenade launchers and machine guns, clamping their ears from unbearable pain. Thus, it was possible for the first time in real conditions to test the acoustic gun LRAD, which was on the liner. LRAD belongs to the non-lethal impact systems that many states have been working on in the last decade. Often, this type of weapon is also called “humane”, since it is intended not to kill people, but only temporarily disable or, at the most, injure. Forms of non-lethal effects on humans can be: electromagnetic waves, sound, bright light, etc.

The very idea of ​​using sound as a weapon is not new, it has occupied the minds of scientists for a long time. Almost everyone knows the old biblical история, which tells about the storming of Jericho, when the Jewish army under the leadership of Joshua loudly screamed and blew into the pipes - and the walls of Jericho went cracked and collapsed. Someone saw the miracle of the Lord in this story, and someone, remembering how avalanches happen in the mountains from the impact of a loud sound and screaming, and in mines and caves collapsed, I was looking for a scientific explanation for this. In the XX century, a number of researchers put forward the version that the collapse of the walls could cause quite a powerful sound signal of a special frequency, which provoked a destructive vibration. Allegedly, the secret of this phenomenon lurked in a special device "Jericho pipes". In any case, in the twentieth century, scientists in many countries were engaged in projects that, in fact, were a real attempt to build modern “Jericho pipes”.

The American Long Range Acoustic Device LRAD is one example of such devices. It was developed by American Technology Corporation back in 2000 year. Its main purpose is to protect ships from attacks by pirates, terrorists, or militant demonstrators. It can also be used to disperse a street crowd, but much more carefully and selectively. Since at sea it is absolutely safe for the crew of the vessel on which it is installed: at sea, the crew are not threatened with an echo. The device uses the power of sound to influence people. LRAD strikes a person with a rather powerful sound - 150 decibels, for comparison: the noise of engines of a modern jet aircraft is estimated at 120 decibels.

The entire set of equipment weighs about 20 kg and is an 33 inch device (83 cm) in diameter, the LRAD can emit sound in the 30 ° sector. At maximum power, the device generates sound in 146 dB, which can damage a person's hearing and is above the pain threshold for a normal person (120-130 dB). At the same time, the impact force decreases at a distance, at a distance of 300 yards (270 meters) the sound impact decreases to 90dB. The pain threshold parameter is individual for each person. It is on the basis of this parameter, for example, that the volume of the sound amplifying equipment at rock concerts is limited.

At the same time, countermeasures can be used against the use of the LRAD device. In particular, use a variety of passive hearing protection. Such means include noise protection headphones, which are actively used in production or repair. Their use can reduce the sound impact of the device to a minimum. In addition, the sound can easily be reflected from any solid surface and redirected to the radiation source. Therefore, the device is recommended to use in the sea.

This is a big drawback of almost all modern models of acoustic weapons, it can also affect those who use it. Attempts by engineers to create narrowly focused sound sources had only short-term success: under the conditions of testing at an open test site, everything was quite simple, but under the conditions of a modern city, sound waves are reflected from various objects, walls of houses and come back.

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  2. Denis
    Denis 21 November 2013 09: 12
    But it can still be like that!
    In Soviet times, the topic of the Bermuda Triangle was raised and in the program "The Obvious Incredible" they asked prof. Kapitsa. He said that for some reason some kind of waves that destroy
    It has long been, I do not remember, and not a physicist
    But it’s worth believing that, a man and a serious scientist, not a sneaker from the current scientific programs
    1. Andrey Yuryevich
      Andrey Yuryevich 21 November 2013 17: 14
      we certainly create the same weapon, but much cheaper, and having no analogues ....
    2. Dezzed
      Dezzed 29 November 2013 22: 43
      Quote: Denis
      some kind of waves that destroy

      About 7 Hz. the tissues of our body resonate at this frequency.
  3. AVV
    AVV 21 November 2013 11: 02
    The simplest protection against these waves, ordinary cotton wool, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in a trash can !!! But it's good that Somali pirates do not read the military review !!!
  4. 528Obrp
    528Obrp 21 November 2013 11: 45
    I would like to see how this thing can affect the SCADA system
    "reprogram most of the controlled computer systems of a modern warship." laughing They have that the development environment is constantly sitting connected to the control system and the acoustic waves spar on the keyboard and compile the code laughing? Or maybe they affect the touch screen user interface? Dreamers.
    The only thing that can be useful is the seiner following the ships and collecting jammed fish.
    1. Yarik
      Yarik 21 November 2013 13: 28
      laughing Phew ... that's how I felt, I always close the door to the server room.
    2. sub307
      sub307 21 November 2013 14: 40
      Yeah, something from the field of science fiction (or near-science).
    3. m262
      m262 21 November 2013 23: 14
      I think this "high-tech" crap is easily blocked by soldering a diode into the speaker circuit, the conclusion is: downloading money from the US military budget, let them indulge wassat
      1. Dezzed
        Dezzed 29 November 2013 22: 46
        Quote: m262
        soldering a diode into the speaker circuit

        Probably the diode will have to solder in two directions.
  5. Black
    Black 21 November 2013 15: 01
    The question is what range of sound waves is used.
    Infrasound of high power in resonance vomits the liver! It’s quite a humane weapon against the same pirates. And cotton swabs will not help here.
    1. 528Obrp
      528Obrp 21 November 2013 16: 25
      Quote: Chen
      Infrasound of high power in resonance vomits the liver!

      only directional transmission is not possible.
  6. Kir
    Kir 21 November 2013 16: 27
    Again, another rubbish against the public and the institutions of power, the public is that We are the coolest and so on, and the government would have thrown some money and We will create the most ..., well, well, the old song. One thing pleases that it is not Us who are bred, although given that there is Our money, and there are still alarmists and "gullible" in certain positions, and advisers do not always walk around, but not rarely sent Cossacks, maybe he knows, God forbid, even Will affect us.
    About sound weapons, they are not long-range and non-selective, as a result they can affect those who are not involved, and it’s not so difficult to protect themselves from them — anisotropic materials and media.
    Yes But perhaps the most important thing as far as I remember. Sound is nothing but a wave electromagnetic phenomenon, so there seems to be no focus in the transition of one to another.
    1. 528Obrp
      528Obrp 21 November 2013 16: 39
      Quote: Kir
      a sound is nothing but a wave electromagnetic phenomenon,

      Sound is an acoustic phenomenon and, apart from wave processes, has nothing to do with electromagnetic processes, and in principle it cannot directly transfer to electromagnetic one. Only by mechanical work (microphone for example)
      And the fact that a divorce - I absolutely agree with you! +1
      1. Kir
        Kir 21 November 2013 16: 46
        I won’t argue, I’ve studied for a long time, But I’ll have to go to bed, but in general then where did the sound from the spark (short circuit) or more globally lightning come from, by the way, they somehow showed the measuring laboratory and there they attributed a lot of things to electromagnetic phenomena.
  7. 528Obrp
    528Obrp 21 November 2013 16: 55
    Quote: Kir
    spark sound

    a spark is a hot plasma! micro explosion - a sharp expansion of heated air and, as a result, a shock wave
    1. Kir
      Kir 21 November 2013 17: 09
      okay, something else was more important a long time ago. this is not a comparability of costs and results in the case of the use of acoustic weapons, but Plasma is more interesting both as a protective cocoon and as a weapon, by the way all-round.
      1. 528Obrp
        528Obrp 21 November 2013 17: 14
        Quote: Kir
        Plasma is more interesting both as a protective cocoon and as a weapon, by the way the all-harming

        I agree. this field must be plowed and plowed. what if you manage to get a controlled ball lightning? ('eh fantasy smile )
        1. Kir
          Kir 21 November 2013 17: 29
          The only question is whether we will not get a thinking weapon at the output, as according to the work of R. Sheckley "Guardian Bird", which will take itself and reorient, with plasma this option is more likely than with the so-called artificial intelligence, since it is not a fact that during the creation do not "give birth" to a plasma form of life, given the property of plasma to self-organization - one of the features of living matter. Yes, the observations of CMM themselves, too, say, give rise to doubts about the homogeneity of this phenomenon.
          And given all this, one can rather expect the appearance of a weapon that thinks in the literal sense of the word, and as a result, under favorable conditions of Real, not Imaginary selectivity. Give that Providence that We first created it !!!
          Yes, I was forced to correct myself, I thought about one thing, but illiterately wrote another unity as wave phenomena, by the way, and the mass seems to be one of them too.
    2. Dezzed
      Dezzed 29 November 2013 22: 48
      Quote: 528Obrp
      a spark is a hot plasma!

      Unfortunately, we are not scientists, they don’t know that there is an arc and a plasma.
      1. Kir
        Kir 30 November 2013 20: 12
        It’s probably more correct to say that we don’t know everything, or we don’t know and understand enough.
        And with regards to the expression hot plasma, I just could not remember for a long time, but it seems like from memory somewhere up to 400-something Celsius is still cold plasma. And on the good side, considering how "hot brains" are able to turn everything newly discovered on the channel of commerce and destruction, maybe it's a misunderstanding and for the better.
  8. Asan Ata
    Asan Ata 22 November 2013 00: 35
    Sound can cause vibration, vibration in wires - induction EMF, EMF - currents in networks, if the sound is modulated, in principle, it is possible to achieve simulation of a digit. Well, in general, some kind of nonsense. In order to have something substantial, the sound must penetrate inside, and this is hell, well, except for infrasound. At a distance, power decreases non-linearly quickly, so also horseradish. It is comparatively easier to act on the antenna with a radio signal to somehow get inside.
  9. SovMan
    SovMan 22 November 2013 01: 31
    I am engaged in SCADA systems and control automation. I think this topic is the divorce of some laboratory for financing. Of the sound in control systems, there is mainly only a siren, and perhaps you can try to make it noisy.
  10. q_556
    q_556 22 November 2013 16: 51
    It is assumed that a certain acoustic signal is able to damage the membranes of the speakers, disrupt their work, forcing to generate an electrical signal, consisting of a specific set of zeros and ones, which can reprogram most of the controlled computer systems of a modern combat ship.
    Enchanting nonsense. Let's go in order:

    a certain acoustic signal is able to damage the membrane of the speakers, disrupt their operation
    First, how is an acoustic signal able to act on speakers? Maybe we are talking about the microphones or the enemy’s CEO?

    forcing to generate an electrical signal consisting of a specific set of zeros and ones
    Second, the electrical signal does not "consist of a specific set of ones and zeros." Do the authors of the idea know anything about analog-to-digital converters? How will the signal be digitized?

    which can reprogram most of the controllable computer systems of a modern warship
    Third, how is it incomprehensible how a digitized signal is capable of "reprogramming the majority of controlled computer systems"? Here I can not say anything, I know little about programming, and even less about writing viruses, but it seems to me extremely unlikely such a possibility.

    Those. from all this hash follows something like the following:
    The acoustic signal should go to the receiver located on the enemy’s ship (the ship’s HAC is best suited for this), then digitize it (apparently, the authors do not assume that the HAC are analog), then, the digitized signal must somehow transform into a virus and harm ship systems. Again, questions: in order for the virus to get into the system unchanged, it is necessary to know very accurately the signal processing at the GAS — which filters are used, which algorithms are used to remove interference, and what sampling rate is set. Moreover, even if we all know this, it is necessary that the signal reaches the receiver without any distortion - it is absolutely impossible, given the interference caused by both the marine environment and the enemy himself.

    In my opinion, this is another Pentagon cut under the guise of a promising development. I remember there was one office that promised to equip American soldiers with invisibility cloaks - that is, the same field of berry.
    1. Kir
      Kir 22 November 2013 22: 14
      So maybe the former "ours" have run out of money, but is there another "special", well, like the head of the household, or something else moved to permanent residence, if not ourselves. So maybe the former "ours" will end them, at least some they will be useful.