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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 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.

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