Missiles shooting laser beams? Sounds like the premise for the next summer blockbuster doesn’t it? Well before you race off to look for the next show times available look no further than the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base near Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the heart of Kirtland Air Force Base, Counter-Electronics Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) is being worked on which is intended to decimate enemy air defenses with directed-energy beams that come off a low-flying cruise missile.
If it sounds preposterous, this author assures you this is not a product of science fiction. The Armed Forces already have traditional counter-electronic warfare weapons like the EA-18G Growler used by the Navy which is a version of the F/A-18 Super Hornet designed to jam enemy radar. The CHAMP takes the smash-mouth approach and just eliminates it altogether. Lt. Nicholas Quartermont of the Air Force Research Laboratory revealed that at the present moment CHAMP only works off a B-52 but the team is working on adapting CHAMP for weapons that can be launched by the F/A-18 and also by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
In 2012 Boeing announced in a press release the initial successful testing of CHAMP and that the Air Force had plans to test the multi-shot, multi-target and steerable version of the system later in the fiscal year. The CHAMP missile was able to navigate using a pre-programmed flight plan and knocked out the target’s data and electronic subsystems with bursts of high-powered energy. The Air Force believes that the advantage of the system is that CHAMP allows for selective high-frequency radio wave strikes that avoids damaging structures and risking lives by locking on to a very precise electronic targets in a single mission.
Essentially, CHAMP carries a small generator that emits bursts of microwaves designed to blow out electronics with pinpoint accuracy. And unlike tradition nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons that fire once and blacks out entire nation-states, CHAMP can fire multiple times pinpointing and blacking out only the designated target with frightful accuracy and efficiency. In theory this would knock out radar defense of a hostile state but will not blow out the electrical grid of the civilian section.