WASHINGTON, March 5 (UPI) -- At least three senior defense officials in the last two weeks have denied any knowledge of the rumored, so-called "E-bomb" -- a device that is reported to deliver a powerful electronic pulse that could fry the circuits of enemy weaponry and computers without directly harming humans.
The latest denial came from U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. Tommy Franks, who would head a possible war with Iraq where various news reports suggests the weapon could make its debut.
"I can't talk to you about that because I don't know anything about it," Franks said.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper told reporters in February he knew nothing about the device. Another senior official said Wednesday that he could offer no details as he had none.
They were asked about an "E-bomb" -- the new term of art for the High Powered Microwave weapon that lately has received so much press.
Defense officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, have confirmed high-powered electronic pulses are under study, but none has confirmed that such a device has been made into a weapon and is ready for a debut in Iraq.
At a news briefing in August, Rumsfeld said such weapons are in "varying early stages" and pointed out that some weapons systems that are still in development sometimes get tapped for combat.
"The real world intervenes from time to time, and you reach in there and take something out that is still in a developmental stage, and you might use it, " Rumsfeld said.
During the Kosovo war, the Air Force exploded a bomb filled with carbon fibers over a power plant. When the fibers touched the power lines, they caused short circuits. The damage was repairable but shut down power to Belgrade for an extended period.
The Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., began studying the use of high-powered microwaves and electromagnetic pulse devices as weapons in 1998, according to Pentagon documents. The $50 million initial development contract was classified as top secret.