If you’re fighting somebody, one of the many ways to make his life hell is to shut down his communications systems. But that can be exceptionally hard to do, since it usually involves blowing up heavy infrastructure.
Fortunately, our love of computers has made it a lot easier to sow societal chaos just by firing a missile over a city! Uh… yay?
Specifically, the Boeing Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, or CHAMP. CHAMP fires, as you may have guessed, high-powered microwaves at its target. The microwaves essentially overload the gear by causing voltage surges and other problems. The problem is that microwaves tend to drop in effectiveness quickly over range, making weaponizing them tricky.
CHAMP, though, was so effective that during its first test, it was fired at a building and knocked out not just the test computers and the building’s electrical system, but also the video cameras filming the test.
So why is Boeing building this? The military would like to develop new ways to knock out enemy resources without killing civilians, and CHAMP is a demonstration that they can do just that. The tradeoff is that shielding your stuff is fairly easy to do, so it’s really only for civilian resources, but hey, it beats blowing them up.
CHAMP – Lights Out [Boeing]