Boeing’s “CHAMP,” is short for Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project. It is a non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon. CHAMP carries a small generator that emits microwaves to fry electronics with pinpoint accuracy. It targets not nations or cities but individual buildings, blacking out their electronics rather than blowing up physical targets (or people).
In 2012, Boeing representative was able to boast: “We hit every target we wanted to,” predicting further that “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.” Three years later, that future has arrived. Air Force Research Laboratory commander Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello says CHAMP is “an operational system already in our tactical air force.”
Lockheed Martin builds the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile — Extended Range (JASSM-ER), which the Air Force intends to use as CHAMP’s delivery mechanism. A cruise missile with an estimated range in excess of 600 miles, JASSM-ER will itself be deployable from combat aircraft such as F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, B-1 and B-52 bombers, and the F-35 stealth fighter — extending CHAMP’s reach even further.
To date, Military Embedded Systems notes that the Air Force Research Laboratory has contracted Boeing to build only five CHAMP devices. But the trend in Pentagon acquisitions projects suggests the Air Force could soon be building these weapons en masse. From MALD-J radar-jamming drones to Switchblade kamikaze guided rockets and now CHAMP mini-electromagnetic-pulse weapons, the Air Force seems intent on fighting its next war more or less entirely by remote control.