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From suitcase nuke to gym bag EMP, could microwave weapons be the next arms race?

Boeing/USAF First Non-kinetic/Microwave EMP Missile 

 

Boeing and the United States Air Force have produced a missile capable of delivering a targeted electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The Counter-electronics High power Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) was tested late in September of 2012; receiving little, if any, media attention. The CHAMP missile produces an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a high power microwave (HPM) device that capable of incapacitating electronic equipment, connections, communication lines, and antenna systems. High power microwave systems have been tested for a variety of weapons applications. The test proved that CHAMP could effectively strike selected targets and destroy entire electrical systems, including an unprotected power grid. Detonation of a nuclear device can also create an EMP but on a much larger, non specific scale. The CHAMP missile is certainly more subtle than a nuclear detonation but is equally destructive and potentially deadly.

How bad could it be?
Systems that could be targeted by an EMP delivered by CHAMP include civilian targets; banking, power grid infrastructure, communications, and the internet. The United States military has known the potentials of EMP since the early 1960’s. In today’s techno-driven society the impact could be disastrous. Unlike a nuclear detonation, effect from an EMP would be far more discrete and deaths would most likely result from disruption in electrical systems over a wide area. We’ve seen what natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Sandy can do to major modern cities and we’ve seen what happens when the power goes out for extended periods. Considering the impact of an EMP; we could be talking about loss of electricity over entire regions of the U.S. for months or years.

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