The UK needs to defend itself against an electromagnetic pulse-based ‘E-bomb’ that could knock out all electronic systems, the defence secretary will say today.

Philip Hammond will tell a security conference in London that traditional defences based on “infantry or jet planes” would not be enough to protect the country from such an attack, and that Britain needs to spend money on building its digital defences.

“One of the challenges we face, particularly at a time of limited resources, is to make the case for spending on defence and security solutions that cannot readily be seen by the public – that cannot be shown off in the parade ground – that could be digital, not necessarily physical,” Hammond is due to say, according to The Telegraph.

Security experts at the 3rd Electric Infrastructure and Security Council (EIS) Summit – which will focus on securing the electric grids of the US and its allies – are expected to say that the risk of a rogue state using an E-bomb to attack is on the increase.

Hammond will be reiterating the findings of a report from the Defence Committee in February, which highlighted how a nuclear weapon exploded at altitude could be devastating for many of the UK’s industries, including the financial markets.

The report suggested that the government needed to create a better plan for reacting to the threat of a major EMP event.

A single nuclear weapon detonated between 25 and 500 miles above Earth could create an EMP that could cause damage to technology over a wide geographical area.

Much of the UK’s electrical infrastructure could be impacted, including micro-electronic systems, electronics based control systems, sensor, communication systems, protective systems and computers.