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U.S. Air Force missiles disable electronics with microwaves

May 21, 2019

The United State Air Force has fired at least 20 missiles that emit high-power microwave (HPM) energy capable of disabling military weapons that rely on electronics without causing fatalities or other collateral damage, according to a recent report by

The development program is known as the Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP). Manufacturer for the missiles, first tested in 2012, is Boeing
Phantom Works. CHAMP, which renders electronic targets useless, is a non-kinetic alternative to traditional explosive weapons that use the energy of motion to defeat a target. In the 2012 test, a two-story target in a Utah desert was filled with computers and security and surveillance equipment. The microwaves reportedly disabled all the equipment in the building, including cameras that were supposed to film the test.

The defense strategy involves cruise missiles, launched from B-52s at low altitude—and with a range of 700 miles—which port the HPM-pulsing weapons to cause voltage surges and effectively zap computer chips and disarm hostile weapons. Mary Lou Robinson, chief of the High Power Microwave Division of the Air Force Research Lab, told the that the missiles are presently operational and ready for action.   

CHAMP missiles are said to be different from cyber-warfare designed to confuse computers. Unlike a cyberattack, CHAMP irreparably fries electronic equipment. HPM can penetrate underground facilities through their connections to power cables, antennas, and communication lines. Besides being able to disable planes, tanks, ships, missile systems, and nuclear testing facilities, HPM can knock out radar that might detect the missile delivering an attack.

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