Long-time readers may remember that back in November last year, we looked at Boeing's Counter-electronics High-power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP). Boeing's just announced the first operational test flight of the new guided weapon.
On Oct. 16th at 10:32 a.m. MST a Boeing Phantom Works team along with members from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate team, and Raytheon Ktech, suppliers of the High Power Microwave source, huddled in a conference room at Hill Air Force Base and watched the history making test unfold on a television monitor.
CHAMP approached its first target and fired a burst of High Power Microwaves at a two story building built on the test range. Inside rows of personal computers and electrical systems were turned on to gauge the effects of the powerful radio waves.
Seconds later the PC monitors went dark and cheers erupted in the conference room. CHAMP had successfully knocked out the computer and electrical systems in the target building. Even the television cameras set up to record the test were knocked off line without collateral damage.
“This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,” said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. “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,”
In all, seven targets were hit using CHAMP’s high power microwaves in the one-hour test that degraded and defeated the electronics inside the test buildings.
. . .
Coleman, who led the Boeing team in the historic test flight, says the team is currently analyzing data and telemetry from the test that many consider a big step in modern non-lethal warfare.
“Today we turned science fiction into science fact,” Coleman said.
There's more at the link. Here's a video report about the test.
It's a remarkable advance in weapons technology, all right . . . but it also adds a worrying new capability to Big Brother's arsenal for internal use. After all, there'd be an outcry if drones carried out lethal strikes against US citizens on US soil. This new type of weapon makes it possible to cut all power, communications, etc. to an apartment block - perhaps even an entire city block - and move in on selected targets or individuals while the lights are out, with little or no warning possible. Those who aren't targets will be inconvenienced regardless - and if they happen to need electrical power for health care equipment such as ventilators, etc., they may become 'collateral damage' whether they like it or not.
The more impersonal and technological warfare becomes, the less human it becomes - and therefore the easier it becomes to indulge in it. It's like the USA's "drone wars": a target is designated, and a drone launches a missile. No court of law has any say in whether or not the target is deserving of death or other punishment. After the fact, it's emerged that hundreds of civilians and non-combatants have been killed in this way - although the current Administration has sought to re-define the meaning of the term 'civilian' to deflect criticism.
In the long run, I doubt whether "remote warfare by technology" will be good for the human race . . . but then, 'normal' warfare hasn't been much good either, has it?