Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project: Boeing’s new drone-borne EMP missile
By End the Lie
To add to the long list of amazing drone technologies, Boeing has now demonstrated their Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), which is aimed at disabling and destroying any and all electronics.
Boeing is clearly quite proud of CHAMP, evidenced by a press release which states that the missile “may one day change modern warfare, by defeating electronic targets with little or no collateral damage.”
The test was carried out on October 16, 2012 by a Boeing Phantom Works team in concert with members of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate team along with Raytheon Ktech, which supplied the high power microwave source.
A video of the test can be found here (thanks to Discovery for the link):
The test involved firing high powered microwaves at a two story building filled with personal computers and various electronics at the Utah Test and Training Range in western Utah.
Just seconds after being hit by the microwaves the electronics went dead “without collateral damage,” according to the Boeing press relase.
“This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,” said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. “In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy’s electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive.”
“We know this has some capabilities and some impact, we’re really trying to engage the customer to see if there is a way we can actually get this fielded and implemented sooner than later,” said James Dodd, vice president of Advanced Boeing Military Aircraft, part of Phantom Works.
“Today we turned science fiction into science fact,” Coleman added.
CHAMP actually dates back to 2009 when Boeing announced the program as part of the U.S. Army’s quest to obtain a weapon capable of easily disabling electronics of all kinds.
“You can do this with the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) produced by a nuclear explosion, but those tend to be somewhat messy as they produce rather too much ‘collateral damage,’” according to The Register.
The Register points out that hardened military systems might prove much more difficult to disable and there is “no word on how many attacks a single missile can make.”
According to Boeing, a single run can take out more than one target but they avoid actually saying how many can actually be disabled in one run.
The hour-long test conducted earlier this month hit a total of seven targets but the company did not identify how many missiles they used to carry out the attack.
Indeed, this is far from the only mysterious aspect of the program.
“There’s also the question of whether this is a reusable weapon, and if not how it destroys itself once exhausted,” writes Iain Thomson for The Register. “Leaving technology like this littered across the landscape would be a gift for those seeking to develop anti-electronic weapons and looking for kit to reverse engineer.”
While Boeing claims that there is little collateral damage, the fact is that there is “no word on the effect on human beings.”
“The US already uses microwaves as a crowd control device but CHAMP’s kind of attack should last fractions of a second, and this may be something that causes brief discomfort but no fatalities,” Thomson adds.
“Still, don’t expect to see CHAMP fielded soon. It’s simply meant to demonstrate that such a weapon is feasible,” writes John Reed for Foreign Policy’s Killer Apps blog. “In the meantime, the Pentagon is buying EA-18G Growler electronic attack jets for the Navy while the Air Force and Marine Corps hope to use something called the Next Generation Jammer along with powerful Active Electronically Scanned Array radars (AESA radars can be used to jam other radars, in addition to many other things) on their F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to defeat enemy sensors.”
With the focus on electronic warfare constantly increasing and with no signs of slowing down any time soon, it is hardly reasonable to expect that projects like these will fall by the wayside. So long as funds (which we do not have, mind you) continue to be funneled into the coffers of the defense industry giants like Boeing, we will continue to see programs like CHAMP.
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