The US just extended a $10 million contract to defence contractor Raytheon to equip Boeing AGM-86B air-launched cruise missiles with a Counter-electronics High-power microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) payloads.
These payloads, according to IHS Jane’s, will enable the missiles to disable enemy electronics during flight.
Missiles equipped with the CHAMP technology can fire microwave pulses at multi-story buildings and permanently disable the electric devices therein, as was successfully demonstrated during a 2012 test.
“This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare… Today we turned science fiction into science fact.” said Keith Coleman, Boeing Phantom Works’ CHAMP Program Manager said at the time.
“In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy’s electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive,” Coleman continued.
The CHAMP system could potentially knockout enemy radar detection or missile defence system, but military hardware often has redundant circuitry and is resistant to weapons like EMPs.
But the inclusion of electronic warfare capabilities on an air-launched cruise missile marks a definite step in the right direction for the US military as tensions rise between the technologically advanced forces of Russia and China.
As a recent Forbes article with the provocative title: “Electronic Warfare: How The U.S. Army Could Lose Its Next War,” points out, “Two decades of fighting rag-tag terrorist groups with scant resources has dulled its edge in electronic warfare, while countries like Russia and China have worked hard to maintain and expand their capabilities.”
Watch a video explainer on the CHAMP system below:
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