The US military is developing a weapon based on peer-to-peer technology to take out mobile phone communications, the US Department of Defence has revealed.
The system also has the capability to covertly monitor cellular traffic.
Codenamed 'WolfPack', the device is intended to prevent an enemy from using its communications technologies, including cellular, without hindering US forces' own communications systems.
WolfPack is a 6 x 4in cylinder weighing 6lbs, capable of being dropped by parachute or fired into the target area as a missile payload. Each device zaps mobile phone communications within a radius of half a kilometre.
"The idea is to litter the battlefield with these small objects," WolfPack programme manager Preston Marshall in a statement.
The battery-powered device contains an inflatable antenna. Fins mounted inside the cylinder extend from the device on touchdown to lift it into a vertical position. Once in place and with the aerial up, each WolfPack until begins communicating with any others it can detect.
Together, they quickly establish a network. Other networks in range can tie in too, creating, if you will, an 'Internet' of WolfPack nodes, which ultimately allows data from any single device to be routed across the network of networks to the command centre.
Each cylinder can generate radio signal to disrupt cellular traffic, said Marshall. "Each WolfPack is very small, but collectively they gang up on the signal," he added.
Equally, the units can used to monitor enemy communications signals. Think of it as a Napster for military intelligence - each device can share the signals it picks up with all the others.
Units can stay powered for up to two months in the field, and can be later collected and re-used. Each node costs around $10,000. Together, they are cheaper, less obtrusive and a much less obvious target for enemy intervention than the aircraft-based systems used to jam or monitor communications at the moment.
WolfPack prototypes will be put to the test with in the next 18 months, the DoD said. ®