There are two developing technologies.
The millimeter radiation system for Active denial. The pain beam. It works out to 500+ meters. They are talking deployment in 2010. They are already in various field trials.
I wrote about theHPM (High Power Microwave) pulses--powerful enough to destroy enemy electronics--can be produced without the need for explosives or huge electrical generators. They are talking systems in the terawatt range to fry navy ships and 100 gigawatts to take out cruise missiles.
They could also make better sensor system on a fighter-size aircraft that could generate enough power, with a 1-ft. resolution, to see stealthy objects at 100 miles.
If Russia and China and other military powers can see through US stealth then a big US advantage will go away.
The next link talks about petawatt power, blowing apart protein molecules in a coluomb explosion.
So some observations and questions:
1. If the active denial system power was boosted. by say US, Russia and China (or any other major country) then it would easily be a longer range death to the unshielded beam. This would be a hinderance and would bog down attacking forces. If military personal in planes, on the ground have to be constantly shielded they will be slower. Can planes fly with the necessary shielding? Can high power versions of the active denial systems get enough range.
2. Combining the anti-electronics and anti-personal beams from large shielded ground installations combined with stealth defeating sensors would shift the balance of power significantly back towards defense. It is easier to make heavy beam shielding than it is to make it mobile for flight or vehicles.
I believe Russia and China are about as advanced as the US in terms of microwaves and millimeter wave technology. The Russians in the cold war were ahead in the high powered version.
I think the Chinese ability to hit the GPS satellites, possibly soon be able to see through stealth and these new beam technologies would mean that the aspects of recent significant US domination would be taken away. Fights against Russia and China would now be even more less likely to happen because they would be even longer slower slogs in the initial phases.
Human directed fighters and unmanned UAVS would both be vulnerable to one of the two beams How much can the effective range of the beams be increased ?
3. What happens in the molecular nanotechnology (MNT) world ? If you make bigger and more efficient beam projection arrays.
Could the right frequencies be manipulated to spot any MNT built UAVs. Could the MNT UAVs get hardened against the radiations?
Could the beams be used to detect and slow any MNT UAV attack to protect nuclear or some other deterrence. How would the nuclear electronics get protected to get payload to target?