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CHAMP missile test flight knocks out electronic devices with a burst of energy

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October 25, 2012

Artist's impression of the CHAMP missile

Artist's impression of the CHAMP missile

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This week, science fiction became science fact as a Boeing CHAMP missile knocked out a building full of electronics in the Utah desert at Hill Air Force Base. There was no explosion and no flying shrapnel. There was only the sound of the missile’s engine as it flew overhead and the sputtering of sophisticated computers crashing as they were hit by a beam of high-energy microwaves.

CHAMP, which stand for Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, is a cruise missile that replaces an explosive weapon with a sort of “death ray” for electronics. The effect is similar to Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) bombs that show up in James Bond films and give military planners nightmares about computer networks being disabled in a split second.

The difference is that where an EMP weapon uses a nuclear warhead or an explosive shot through a wire coil to generate a pulse over an area, the Boeing CHAMP missile aims a precise beam of high-energy microwaves at a target, or multiple targets, as it flies over.

Artist's impression of the CHAMP missile launching

The military advantages of such a weapon are obvious. "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."

Monday’s test, carried out in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, used a two-story building filled with electronics as the primary target. As the missile flew over in a pre-programmed course, it blasted the building with microwaves.

In seconds, the computers and other electronics inside were knocked out and even the cameras to record the test were rendered inoperative. That day, seven targets were hit and their electronics were disabled by the microwave beam before the missile flew to an “undisclosed location” and returned to Earth.

Source: Boeing

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
33 Comments

Great, now governments and enterprise can spend billions of dollars on counter-measures.

Pewnicorn
25th October, 2012 @ 07:01 pm PDT

haha yeah my thoughts exactly, why in gods name did they tell people they have this weapon. Isn't something like that supposed to be a surprise? or maybe they actually haven't developed it, but they want their enemies to spend billions on fancy roofs!

Ross Jenkins
26th October, 2012 @ 02:51 am PDT

How sad it is that advanced technology used to defend America is published in the general press to boost company stocks. So much for strategic advantages.

James Barbour
26th October, 2012 @ 03:14 am PDT

Guys

Do you really think that this was a secret weapon that no other country knew about until now?

The Chinese probably have half the design stolen already.

Captain Danger
26th October, 2012 @ 04:56 am PDT

Add the microwave frequency with a Brain Scrambling frequency, and you have people also rendered to sheep. And for those that think such devices do not exist, think again ... and if nothing is delivered in your research, then get them to switch the device off! ... LOL ; D

Recent reports from scientists have shown DNA is actually a waveform frequency, that can be activated or deactivated by a external bandwidth frequency ... ''Funny That!''... time to get that Foil-Hat on?

Harpal Sahota
26th October, 2012 @ 05:13 am PDT

@Harpal: This is *exactly* the reason you need to be wearing your aluminum foil hat! Away the Conspiracy-Theory Awareness Team (CTAT)!! ;)

matthew.rings
26th October, 2012 @ 09:14 am PDT

Weapons technology on the march. Don't blow up buildings disable electronics.

Lynne Krause
26th October, 2012 @ 09:20 am PDT

good thing all my guns don't have computers in them.

lafreedom
26th October, 2012 @ 09:22 am PDT

This is fantastic! Imagine what would happen by shutting down a "threats" power and information infastructure.. How vulnerable would they be? Knock out their satcom, and really watch them squirm while this missiles older brother, the Tactical Tomahawk takes it to them hard.

@Harpal, really? DNA can be activated or deactivated externally?

Gregory J. Minor
26th October, 2012 @ 09:37 am PDT

re; Pewnicorn

That is actually the point. The USA did not defeat the USSR on the field of battle; we beat them by forcing them to spend more than they could afford and providing the slaves with as much truth as we could get across the Iron Curtain.

Pikeman
26th October, 2012 @ 09:55 am PDT

Can't F22 Raptor's do this aready by focusing their radar power into a focused beam? I imagine if they can take out radar installations with that system then why not normal computers too. But, we do like drones these days; until they crash, and the Iranian's copy all the tech, then not so much. (RQ-170 incident last year) With tech like this flying around they better install some M.I.'esq Self destruct system so when these things go "boom" they go boom in a big enough way that their aren't any pieces left to reverse engineer.

Facebook User
26th October, 2012 @ 10:06 am PDT

Hiliarious. I am off to the milliner to upgrade the quality of foil in my hat. The Luddites among us may be prompted to upgrade...talking to each other. Remember word of mouth? It could make a comeback. On the other hand, possibly someone could drive an independent one of these things over the new data center in the desert?

Mary Saunders
26th October, 2012 @ 10:11 am PDT

I imagine that by the time details about 'weapons' such these are known or available to the public, agencies such as DARPA, NSA , military and other government entities are at least one generation ahead in the technology, as well as countermeasures. Also, I would not discount the value of disinformation / misinformation, pushing enemies into wasting resources scrambling for defenses / countermeasures against nonexistent weapons.

RikJamez
26th October, 2012 @ 10:30 am PDT

Nailing microwave oven doors to the walls and ceilings in 3-2-1........

flylowguy
26th October, 2012 @ 10:58 am PDT

hmmmm so this mean a incoming missile can now be stopped with microwaves? and could stop a nuclear detonation. i wonder if they already have these setup on the east and west coast already? this microwave deployment system could be stationary protecting our coast lines. if this new technology was in place prior to 911 then i think the terrorist attack could have been diverted. with land based microwave emitters then enough power could be applied to increase the distant of the beam, knocking out enemy aircraft also. i would think the US has already got this infrastructure in place prior too allowing it to hit the news. Have a nice day

Dave Hargraves
26th October, 2012 @ 11:59 am PDT

Reflect the energy back up and take out the missile's electronics and/or sense the burst and fire your own burst (which can be far greater than that of the missiles) back at the missile, and/or make sure your tin foil hat is secured.

For every measure there is a counter measure. It just takes money.

grtbluyonder
26th October, 2012 @ 01:07 pm PDT

Sounds great and it would be nice but as a engineer, you need to know this is all BS. The amount of power needed to do damage is well beyond what this missile could carry, unless it was a nuke. Plus a simple metal shield called a Faraday cage would make this useless. That's why it doesn't work on missiles, they have a metal outer skin. Same reason a simple metal screen keeps your eyeballs from getting cooked looking into a microwave oven. Gizmag, please don't regurgitate this crap, it just makes us all dumber.

ronsoffice
26th October, 2012 @ 01:09 pm PDT

What else is impossible!!!

leatking26
26th October, 2012 @ 01:51 pm PDT

Ha, ronsoffice beat me to the Faraday cage. Also, DNA is not a "frequency." It's amazing how people use scientific sounding terms to add credibility to their nonsense. "Fear is easier to incite in an ignorant population, a panicked person isn't a rational person and will follow someone who can offer them safety even if that someone is also the person creating the circumstances that they fear. Anti-science war-mongering politicians are the enemy of your freedom."

Will Ogden
26th October, 2012 @ 02:35 pm PDT

I thought of this technology a long time back. Another idea I had was an intelligence missile. A missile with ultra high speed cameras, radars and electronics and transmission equipment which rapidly flies through enemy space, transmitting street level information In a slightly higher 3D format, current and more accurate. Picking up street level visual and other wireless intelligence and transmitting It. Then It could return and land via parachute.

Dawar Saify
26th October, 2012 @ 02:55 pm PDT

China don't have to steal anything... more than half of, if not all of it's components , comes from China...

Michiel Mitchell
26th October, 2012 @ 03:19 pm PDT

Great, how do I get one to blow out speed detecting radar, lidar, et al?

Something not traceable.

I know, I'll post a $500 prize for the first practical article and we'll submit it to the Nobel Prize folks.

Igor Crook
26th October, 2012 @ 03:40 pm PDT

Sweet! I want to mount one in the back of my old, computerless pickup and hit the road!

ron_
26th October, 2012 @ 04:52 pm PDT

Shopping List:

(3) 5 FT. x 50 FT. Rolls of fine mesh screen

(1) Box sheetrock screws

(1) Box 1/4" flat washers

kuryus
26th October, 2012 @ 10:13 pm PDT

If a couple of apparent scientists can comment that this is BS, how is it expected to fool anybody's defense department? What, then, would be the purpose of this exercise (or report)?

FastGuy
27th October, 2012 @ 04:35 am PDT

Who says tinfoil hats have to make the wearer look crazy? Used as a liner in a normal hat, layered under a simple light material outer layer and viola! A normal look, (on someone who simply refuses to EVER remove his normal looking hat!).

I see money making opportunity here! :)

Time to open a kickstarter account?

SciGuy3822
27th October, 2012 @ 09:34 am PDT

Don't underestimate the genius of Nikolai Tesla. You should have a Faraday cage anyway. See you tube haarp with for info. on mind control frequency. Your vehicle might be safe unless it is plastic!!

Ray Hettinger
27th October, 2012 @ 12:17 pm PDT

While this seems like an impressive weapon, we need to keep in mind that if we have it other advanced countries are not far behind. Imagine knocking out Wall Street's electronics, or the power grids in different parts of the country. It would be total chaos. The U.S. has never made any effort to "harden" the internet, the banking system computers, industries computers, power grid computers. There is no doubt that we are vulnerable and we need to begin a major effort to "harden" our electronic infrastructure. Maybe this could be an effort that would create lots of jobs.

James P Pratt
27th October, 2012 @ 10:41 pm PDT

dna's frequency is 528hz(see solfeggio harmonics).

a burst of microwave could disable electronic circuits like intense solar flares.

automotive concerns
28th October, 2012 @ 05:45 am PDT

Billions of taxpayers dollars wasted in research that can probably be defeated with a Faraday cage around servers and other electronics. How stupid does the govt think we are ? So can someone explain to me how we are going to use this missile against the enemies that we have been fighting for ten years in Afghanistan that live in caves ?

The politicians are laughing their asses off at all the American taxpayers who paid for this kind of stupid crap. This is from the same bunch of idiots who brought us a 2.1 billion dollar stealth bomber that can't fly in the rain and needs 50- 60 hours of ground maintenance for every hour in flight.

RESISTANCE
28th October, 2012 @ 03:24 pm PDT

Even if this was true how can it be considered anything other than an offensive weapon?

For all one knows it may already be a standard practice to construct new military installations with Faraday's cage s as part of the poured concrete floors and walls.

pmshah
28th October, 2012 @ 07:52 pm PDT

Do you suppose Faraday's cages are a standard part of nuclear power plant control rooms? I hope so.

Matthew Bailey
5th November, 2012 @ 10:26 am PST

As we, and our household electronics, are well shielded from microwaves from our microwave ovens, I don't imagine it would be that hard to shield electronics in computerised warfare installations.

BundyGil
29th November, 2012 @ 10:26 pm PST
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