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Experimental missile shuts down target computers

Experimental missile shuts down target computers

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Published by Oriana Pawlyk
Air Force Times Prime
Air Force Times Prime

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Oriana Pawlyk on Nov 20, 2012
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Experimental missile shuts down target computers
Air Force, Boeing project would take out electrical systems but not harm humans

By Oriana Pawlyk

Wherever your mission takes you, anywhere in the world, you’ll find University of Maryland University College (UMUC). We offer courses on base or on-site in more than 25 countries—and over 90 undergraduate and graduate programs entirely online. That’s our mission, because since 1947, UMUC has been educating America’s armed forces.

What long was an idea bouncing around only in sci-fi movies and TV shows — a missile that can destroy electrical systems minus the collateral damage — is moving closer to reality, thanks to a program underway by Boeing and the Air Force Research Laboratory. The defense contractor and AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate, based at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., successfully tested the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, or CHAMP, during a flight over the Utah Test and Training Range that was monitored from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on Oct. 16. CHAMP — backed by a systems integration contract worth $40 million — had three major assignments: fly over selected targets, hit them with high-powered radio wave bursts and defeat their electrical and data systems while causing little to no collateral damage. During the test flight, the CHAMP missile flew an hourlong preprogrammed route aimed at “hitting” seven targets. A Boeing video released Oct. 22 showed a building along the route packed with computers. As CHAMP flew by emitting high-powered microwaves, the monitors all went dark. “When that computer went out, when we fired, it actually took out the cameras as well; it took out everything on that, it was fantastic,” said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works, in a video release. But the logistics behind CHAMP are slightly more complex. “High-powered microwaves cause electronic circuitry to malfunction by causing changes in voltages and currents,” Bob Torres, CHAMP program manager, said in an email. “The missile has a multitarget capability, so it can fly from target to target. How the counter-electronics capability will be implemented still needs to be determined,” he said. In terms of the Air Force’s role, “as far as the flight plan, the Air Force will make the determination on how the missile will operate,” Torres said. So far, the Air Force’s role in CHAMP has


The new Boeing/Air Force missile CHAMP is designed to automatically disable electronic devices through radio waves as it soars through the sky. been managing the technology development and integration of the aerial platform. The Air Force will determine how that technology can be used in the future. CHAMP, as defined by Boeing, is a nonkinetic alternative to traditional explosive weapons that use the energy of motion to defeat a target. But by “causing little to no collateral damage,” there is still some ambiguity if it can be classified as a “nonlethal” weapon system. “The CHAMP system provides a nonkinetic capability. While CHAMP is not acknowledged as part of the Defense Department Non-Lethal Weapons Program, it could, however, be considered as a nonlethal weapon,” according to Kelley Hughes, spokeswoman for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate at Quantico, Va. The DoD defines its nonlethal weapons as “weapons that are explicitly designed and primarily employed so as to incapacitate personnel or materiel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel and undesired damage to property and the environment. Unlike conventional lethal weapons that destroy their targets principally through blast, penetration and fragmentation, nonlethal weapons employ means other than gross physical destruction to prevent the target from functioning.” After its first flight, the CHAMP missile flew to an undisclosed location on the test range. The altitude and range of the missile were not provided by Boeing, nor the method of how CHAMP landed following the test. Coleman said the Boeing and AFRL teams are analyzing data and telemetry from the test that many consider a big step in modern nonlethal warfare. To date, the majority of the funding for CHAMP has come from AFRL and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “We hit every target we wanted to, we prosecuted every one, and we made science fiction science fact,” Coleman said after the test flight in the video release. Ë

‘It took out everything’

UMUC is the nation’s largest public university.

To learn more visit military.umuc.edu/flexible
18 Air Force Times November 5, 2012

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