Electromagnetic pulse

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There is more information available on this subject at Electromagnetic pulse on the English Wikipedia.
A Type-26 Banshee GSA when hit by the EMP effect of an overcharged plasma pistol.

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is the electromagnetic radiation from an explosion (especially a nuclear explosion) or an intensely fluctuating magnetic field caused by Compton-recoil electrons and photoelectrons from photons scattered in the materials of the electronic or explosive device or in a surrounding medium. While organic tissue is unaffected, the resulting electric and magnetic fields may couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges. The effects are usually not noticeable beyond the blast radius unless the device is nuclear or specifically designed to produce an electromagnetic shockwave. An alternate definition is: a broadband, high-intensity, short-duration burst of electromagnetic energy.

The worst of an electromagnetic pulse generally only lasts for a second, but any unprotected electrical equipment will be affected by the pulse.[1]

Notable examples[edit]

There have been several noteworthy instances in which an EMP has appeared.


EMP is also an in-game effect in the Halo games, that disables energy shields and vehicles. It is produced by certain weapons and equipment.

  • In Halo 2, the Sentinels sometimes emit an EMP when destroyed. This effect disables shields, but vehicles are unaffected.
  • In Halo 3, the power drain uses EMP to disable shields, vehicles and other power sources.
  • A charged Plasma Pistol blast will temporarily disable vehicles and energy shields much like the power drain.
  • In Halo Wars, Professor Anders' vehicle, the Gremlin, uses EMP as main armament to disable enemy non-infantry units.
  • In Halo Wars, the Vampire's stasis cannon uses EMP as well to drain power from enemy aircraft.
  • In Halo: Reach, Armor Lock can trigger an EMP after use, which can take out a Spartan's shields. Combined with a quick and accurate melee, this can result in an almost instant kill.
  • In Halo: Reach the M319 Individual Grenade Launcher has a secondary function that acts like an EMP. It awards a player an EMP Blast Medal when it kills an enemy, being the only other weapon in the game that awards the medal.
  • In Halo 2: Anniversary the bases on the map Bloodline have consoles that allow players to activate an EMP around the area. This can be made in a Forge map too.


  • If you disable a vehicle using an EMP, it will show an animation of some sparks flying around, but if you disable it again before it is drivable then the animation will stop and the vehicle will not work.
  • Some vehicles disabled by an EMP will still have full functionality of its weapons if it has any. For example, if a Warthog is disabled by an EMP, the turret will still be able to turn around and shoot. Likewise, a Banshee, while grounded, will still be able to boost and perform tricks.


List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Wikipedia: Electromagnetic pulse
  2. ^ Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 317
  3. ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level, Long Night of Solace
  4. ^ Halo: Combat Evolved, campaign level Two Betrayals
  5. ^ Halo: First Strike, page 89
  6. ^ Halo 3: ODST, campaign level, Prepare to Drop
  7. ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 224
  8. ^ Halo 4, campaign level, Shutdown
  9. ^ Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Guardians