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Amps of Power with CHAMPS

White House briefed on CHAMPS system

Local media reports have revealed that the administration of US President Donald Trump has been briefed on the capabilities of the Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMPS),which is designed to harness the emission of EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) radiation to incapacitate unhardened electronic circuits.

The CHAMPS system has been designed by Boeing as part of a technology demonstration initiative led by the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate. The payload is intended to equip the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) weapon from the mid-2020s, according to media reports, although is not yet a programme of record.

Open sources state that the CHAMPS could be capable of performing up to 100 emissions of high-power microwave energy to incapacitate unshielded electronics during its sortie. However no details appear to have been released regarding the electrical power that the weapon is capable of achieving or its effective range. Moreover, the media reports stated that the White House was briefed on the CHAMPS as a possible capability to be used against the electronics controlling the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missile force, although it is almost certain that at least some of the electronic elements controlling the weapons themselves, or parts of the force’s command and control architecture, will have received at least some form of electronic hardening, possibly via Russian or People’s Republic of China assistance.

Furthermore, given that the White House has been briefed on the weapon’s capabilities, this seems to indicate that the CHAMPS payload may be considered sufficiently developed for a limited deployment? Open source reports have variously stated that the payload could adorn either Boeing AGM-86C Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missiles or decommissioned nuclear-tipped AGM-88B weapons.

Tom Withington


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