Look, up in the air. It’s a microwave missile. It’s a smart bomb. Actually, it’s CHAMP, the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, and it’s arguably the hottest directed-energy innovation in the military and aerospace (mil/aero) market today.
Government and industry—including the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Boeing Phantom Works, Raytheon’s Ktech subsidiary, and Sandia National Laboratories—joined forces to design, develop, and test CHAMP.
Boeing serves as the CHAMP prime contractor and system integrator, as well as provides the airborne platform. CHAMP also takes advantage of a high-powered microwave source from Ktech, a pulsed power and directed energy engineering company owned by Raytheon, and a pulse power system from Sandia National Laboratories.
What’s unique about CHAMP? It neutralizes electronic targets. In fact, it smacks of electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) used to cripple military computers in GoldenEye, a James Bond film, or of the effect in the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, whereby Batman arrives in a futuristic vehicle and all electronics in the vicinity go black.
That’s right, CHAMP can render adversaries’ electronics useless, and it does so with non-lethal non-kinetic energy (NKE), without explosives or putting soldiers in harm’s way, and while minimizing or eliminating collateral damage.
Personnel from Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., have already successfully tested the CHAMP missile. An NBC reporter revealed that this first flight test proved the CHAMP device “to be even more potent than expected.”
This geek cannot think of anything more gratifying for a mil/aero engineer than to see a high-tech solution, once only imagined or science-fiction fodder, exceed military expectations in real-world tests.