Bad-ass Boeing missile flies over buildings, fries computers with microwaves
Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. —
Ignored by the media, the U.S. Air Force last month successfully tested a missile that permanently zaps electronics without killing people or damaging buildings.
The Boeing missile emits high power microwaves (HPM) that fry computer chips so that no electronic devices targeted by the missile can operate. Called the Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), the missile was built by Boeing’s Phantom Works for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at a cost of $38 million.
On Oct. 16, when most of us were watching the first presidential debate, the missile flew over a two-story building on the Utah Test and Firing Range. The building in the west Utah desert was pulsing with computers and security and surveillance systems. The microwaves took down the compound’s entire spectrum of electronic systems, including video cameras filming the test, without damaging anything else.
“We hit every target we wanted to,” Boeing’s CHAMP program manager Keith Colman said in a company press release. “Today we made science fiction into science fact.”
Until the announcement on Oct. 22, the project had been shrouded in secrecy. And beyond a few trade publications, no one in the media has since seen fit to run the story.
Besides taking out the equipment directly, HPM destroys it through connections to power cables, communication lines, and antennas. Unlike any existing systems, CHAMP permanently destroys electronic equipment.
The missile renders inoperable any radar that might detect it as it flies to and from a target. Thus, a country has no way of knowing why its facilities have suddenly gone dead.
Moreover, HPM can penetrate bunkers where facilities are hidden.
That’s where Iran comes in. HPM can take out fighter planes, tanks, ships, and missile systems. But it can also wipe out facilities for developing nuclear weapons. America’s national laboratories have been working on these capabilities for decades. Unlike an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) created by detonating a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere, HPM leaves intact civilian facilities needed to sustain life.
Intelligence sources tell me CHAMP could be expected to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability. In the same way, a nuclear device obtained by terrorists could be destroyed.
While Iran may attempt to shield its equipment, U.S. officials doubt it would be effective against CHAMP. In short, the U.S. now has a powerful weapon that could change the balance of power against a rogue nation like Iran.