Print 38 comment(s) - last by delphinus100.. on Sep 25 at 10:53 AM

CHAMP fries electronics with microwaves

Boeing has announced that its new CHAMP missile has had a successful first test flight. The CHAMP, or Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, had its first test flight earlier this year at the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base. The CHAMP missile is a non-lethal alternative to kinetic weapons that is able to neutralize electronic targets.

The goal is to create a weapon that can eliminate the threat posed by weapons and structures that rely on electronics to operate without having to worry about collateral damage. The test flight pointed the CHAMP missile at a set of simulated targets and confirmed that the missile could be controlled in flight and that timing of the High-powered Microwave (HPM) system could be controlled.

"It was as close to the real thing as we could get for this test," said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. "This demonstration, which brings together the Air Force Research Laboratory's directed energy technology and Boeing's missile design, sets the stage for a new breed of nonlethal but highly effective weapon systems."

The program to develop the CHAMP missile has spanned three years and cost $38 million so far. More tests of the missile system are set for later in the year. Boeing supplies the airborne platform and is the prime contractor and systems integrator on the program. The HPM is supplied by subcontractor Ktech Corp. The pulse power system is provided by Sandia National Laboratories under a separate contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory. 

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RE: Cool
By Bad-Karma on 9/23/2011 3:18:00 AM , Rating: 2
The amount of microwave energy needed to overload and or fry electronics is quite immense even at close ranges. When a telephone pole mounted transformer "pops" it emits a small EMP that only has about a 10-20ft radius. So if this missile is able to carry that amount of destructive power then you wouldn't want to be anywhere near it when it goes off. Either way it's still going to have to get very close to its target to deliver the pulse. Add to that it's own electronics would be toasted as well, so there isn't a whole lot of potential to recover the missile after its use.

So if you hang that much energy on a plane or UAV then you risk knocking out its own systems. People will argue that you could just simply shield the plane, but not only is that a lot of added weight but you may not every be able to get enough shielding to compensate for the affects for this level of EMI. Big heavy strategic bombers are some of the few planes with the lift capacity to allow shielding.

Think of it in these terms, you go after a Integrated Air Defense site with one of these. The missile flies to it's target and then sets of the EMP micro-seconds before it impacts the radar antenna or communication vans. Regardless, of which it hits, anything electrically connected to the target gets zorched as well. Which is a "soft kill" to the site but repairs would be lengthy and extensive. By the time the site was operational again it contribution to the battle may be irrelevant.

RE: Cool
By Diablobo on 9/23/2011 5:59:04 AM , Rating: 2
I heard in the Navy they fry seagulls when they switch on the radar towers of the ships. Anybody on the ground near this missile's target is gonna get zapped too. It probably won't kill them right away, but they're probably gonna die horribly and slowly from radiation exposure.

RE: Cool
By Bad-Karma on 9/23/2011 6:24:19 AM , Rating: 2
From a safe distance normal radar scans don't generate the kind of concentrated energy levels to "nuc" an organism. However, the Aegis cruisers are equipped with the Spy-1 radar which had a tracking mode nicknamed "pencil beam". Essentially all of the radars energy is frequency shaped and steered into a thin tubular (or pencil) shaped beam pattern. We're talking megawatts of highly focused energy. If the operator is good enough to be able to acquire an individual bird then he could zap it from afar. If you were to get into the path of that then yes, your toast, even at great distances.

Never piss off an Aegis cruiser, you may just wind up with funny looking kids!

There are many other radar systems capable of inflicting serious harm and death should you get to close.

Also, if you ever get the chance to see the massive Over-the-Horizon radars (OTH) then look out in front of the array and you will notice bird and bat carcasses strewn about from when they strayed to close to and into the beam.

RE: Cool
By Natch on 9/23/2011 8:29:12 AM , Rating: 2
I was on board the carrier Enterprise for 4.5 years, and never saw any seagull carcasses falling out of the sky while they were "rotating and radiating". Pretty sure that the big old dish spinning around is enough to keep the birds out of the lethal envelope.

I did have to laugh, though, when I was reading Bad-Karma's description. All I could imagine was Michael Winslow (playing the radar operator) in Space Balls, telling Dark Helmet that they had been....JAMMED!!

RE: Cool
By Bad-Karma on 9/23/2011 8:43:23 AM , Rating: 3
Only one man would dare give me the raspberry!

RE: Cool
By Bad-Karma on 9/23/2011 9:20:43 AM , Rating: 2
The Enterprise carries a AN/SPS-48C phase array air search radar which is basically a Air Traffic Control radar on steroids. While it may have high wattage it isn't particularity a high frequency radar. Its beam pattern would be pretty wide (fan like).

The Enterprise's CIWS radars have a very high RF and could do you some serious damage.

RE: Cool
By rcc on 9/23/2011 3:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
The primary threat is the high powered fire control radars for long range missile systems. Not something you find on a carrier.

I never served on a bird farm, but anytime my ships were radiating, they'd broadcast on the 1MC to keep everyone below the 06 deck exterior.

I've never seen it, but the FTMs claimed you could blow up a grapefruit by throwing it in front of the SPG-55 fire control radars.

RE: Cool
By delphinus100 on 9/25/2011 10:50:54 AM , Rating: 2
It probably won't kill them right away, but they're probably gonna die horribly and slowly from radiation exposure.

This isn't ionizing radiation. Think electromagnetic pulse.

Seagulls perched in the radars would be harmed in the microwave oven sense.

RE: Cool
By Richard875yh5 on 9/23/2011 8:41:05 AM , Rating: 2
Our UAV (CHAMP) missile could have a backup set of circuitry that is not energized electrically until after it's given it's lethal blow to the target. Then, the backup would energize and take it back home.

The EMF blow will not affect anything that's not energized electrically. In other words, it can not destroy computer chips if not power is going to it.

RE: Cool
By Bad-Karma on 9/23/2011 9:09:50 AM , Rating: 2
First and foremost, it's a missile, most burn up all the propellant after an initial boost/thrust phase (10-15 seconds). At that point it is coasting. The more propellant you add, the heavier it becomes and less payload and electronics it can carry.

Two, it doesn't matter if the circuits aren't energized. When your talking about that much RF power coming from a single pulse, and on the same airframe, that energy will be arcing and absorbing into any circuits aboard the airframe.

Jamming platforms such as Compass Call and Prowlers have a very hard time keeping their RF from interfering with other aircraft in the area. Any aircraft that gets too close can potentially short out thanks to the heavy EMI. The prowler even has to have a 24kt gold tinting on the canopy just to protect the crew and avionics from its own RF jamming package. Both of those birds have much lesser RF wattage than what we're talking about with the CHAMP.

The technical challenge of putting something like a CHAMP emitter on a UAV would be immense.

RE: Cool
By Hammer1024 on 9/23/2011 11:38:40 AM , Rating: 2
You've made a bad assumption: That electronics not active are imune. Not true.

An RF pulse / EMP indices current flow in components and traces. Thus, any onboard electronics are fried.

Missle's are one way baby...

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