The Boeing Company has successfully completed the first flight test of a counter-electronics missile carrying a high power microwave (HPM) payload designed to zap enemy electronic system. The program called Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) is run by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland AFB, N.M. The missile’s first flight test was conducted earlier this year at the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill Air Force Base. the tests did not include a live HPM payload. Under the three-year $38 million contract Boeing will provide five missiles, two of which will be integrated with HPM payloads provided by Ktech.
CHAMP is a nonlethal alternative to kinetic weapons that neutralizes electronic targets. It would allow the military to focus on these targets while minimizing or totally eliminating physical collateral damage. (Collateral damage to civilian electronic equipment could be excessive, depending on the target location, targeted spectrum bands and employment techniques). CHAMP is considered a cost effective alternative to current kinetic (explosive) weapons, that cannot penetrate hidden, underground targets. The HPM pulse can penetrate through metal elements leading into underground command centers, to damage and even destroy sensitive components in computers, power supplies or communications gear associated with the targeted systems.
During the test the missile was pointed at a set of simulated targets, confirming that the missile could be controlled and timed while using a High-powered Microwave (HPM) system against multiple targets and locations. The software used was identical to the software required for a vehicle with a fully integrated HPM system on board.
“It was as close to the real thing as we could get for this test,” said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. “This demonstration, which brings together the Air Force Research Laboratory’s directed energy technology and Boeing’s missile design, sets the stage for a new breed of nonlethal but highly effective weapon systems.”
For a future HPM weapon USAF planners are looking at a quick recharging payload device capable of delivering aimable multiple HPM bursts at different targets, a series of targets. Such payloads could be carried by cruise missiles or loitering platforms to maximize effect and suppression of enemy air defenses, command and control networks and national infrastructure, delivering military devastating effect at no collateral damage.
Boeing is developing CHAMP under a the three-year, $38 million joint capability technology demonstration program that includes ground and flight demonstrations that focus on technology integration risk reduction and military utility. Boeing received the contract in April 2009. As the prime contractor, airborne platform provider and system integrator. Ktech Corp. of Albuquerque, N.M. supplies the HPM source while Sandia National Laboratories provides the pulse power system under a separate contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory.
MBDA Germany successfully tested a 10kW laser illuminator designed for use with future Counter Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) laser weapon system. The laser evaluated in the recent test series was a 10kW illuminator matched with beam direction optics trough geometric coupling technology patented by MBDA Germany. The system enabled the laser to dwell for few seconds on a moving target, located more than two kilometers away while retaining a high quality beam. According to EADS announcement the system demonstrated tracking of dynamic objects and the effects on the object, performed over a distance of more than 2,300 m and an altitude differential of 1,000 m under real-life environmental conditions.
The successful tests by MBDA Germany have been conducted on behalf of the German Federal Office for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) at the latter’s WTD 52 testing site.
A laser weapon capable of engaging incoming rockets and mortars could offer an important improvement in the capability to protect forward operating bases. Yet, developing an operation system must overcome some significant technical challenges – the wide variety of threat types – high speed artillery munitions, small, low signature mortar munitions, and simultaneous threat posed by rocket salvos dictate target intercept at ranges beyond 1,000 meters. Operating at the speed of light, the laser weapon offers the optimal solution addressing different facets of the challenge with highly responsive, adaptive engagement process.
However, since countermeasures against RAM must be carried out within a few seconds, it is necessary to achieve high laser power and a high quality laser beam against a fast moving target at distances of between 1,000 m and 3,000 m. This is the only way to guarantee the protection of a field camp using such a laser weapon.
According to MBDA Germany this demonstration lays the groundwork for the development of a C- RAM laser weapon system. The program began in 2009 as part of a European Defence Agency (EDA) study. Following the recent demonstration, the team lead by MBDA Germany will conduct hardware integration and final selection of a platform for the laser weapon system, in close consultation with users and suppliers. MBDA Germany comprises LFK-Lenkflugkörpersysteme GmbH together with its subsidiaries (TDW and Bayern-Chemie).