May 20, 2009 The term Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) evokes images of Star Wars-style ray guns blasting aircraft from the skies and laser toting creatures from the far reaches of outer space, but there are also non-lethal forms of these weapons under development for present day military or non-military applications. Boeing has just received a USD$38 million contract to develop a high powered microwave (HPM) airborne demonstrator for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Counter-electronics High power microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP).
The three-year program includes ground and flight demonstrations that will focus on technology integration and military utility with the intention of providing the military with a weapon that has the capability to neutralize specific targets with minimal to no collateral damage.
A key advantage to a microwave weapon is its capacity to neutralize or damage electronics in enemy missiles, artillery fire or even for the suppression of enemy integrated defense systems. The weapon consists largely of a power source, a microwave generator and an antenna to direct the non-lethal ray or microwave beam.
The CHAMP Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) program will be the first to demonstrate counter-electronics HPM aerial capability.
“Integrating AFRL’s compact microwave technology with Boeing’s proven air vehicle design and manufacturing expertise could lead the way to a new breed of nonlethal but highly effective systems. HPM is truly a game-changing technology and we are proud to play a role in its transition to the warfighter,” said Keith Coleman , CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works.
In April Boeing also won a contract worth USD$163 million to provide the US Navy with a Free Electron Laser DEW capable of ultra-precise speed of light capability in a lethal or non-lethal capacity.