A New Navy, Air Force Missile Will Microwave Enemy Electronics to Death

Date:10 July 2022 Author: Juandre

New Missile Will Microwave Enemy Electronics to Death.

The Navy and Air Force are testing a new weapon designed to target a critical vulnerability in today’s military forces: modern electronic devices. The High-Powered Joint Electromagnetic Non-Kinetic Strike Weapon, or HiJENKS, doesn’t blow things up or hurt enemies, but literally makes sparks fly, shorting out an adversary’s electronics and rendering them useless.

HiJENKS, currently undergoing final testing in the California desert, would give the Pentagon a non-lethal option that could cripple an enemy’s war machine without directly endangering anyone.

Modern society is reliant on electronic devices of all kinds. These devices, running on microchips, make possible everything from smartphones to modern cars. But first, here’s a little history on how this device could be useful.

In 1859 a solar storm whacked the Earth with a pulse of electromagnetic energy powerful enough to set telegraph stations on fire in Britain. In 1962 the Starfish Prime atmospheric nuclear test sent a burst of stray voltage across the central Pacific Ocean, knocking out electronic devices in Hawaii. A major part of nuclear attack plans by the avowed nuclear powers is the detonation of large thermonuclear bombs high above an adversary’s territory, in the hopes that the resulting burst of energy will cripple electronic devices below.

In the 1990s the U.S. military began to branch out from largely lethal weapons to non-lethal weapons. This evolved into the world of “soft kill” weapons, weapons that achieve a military mission without explosive or kinetic effects, versus the traditional “hard kill” weapons. One research effort looked into harnessing the power of the Carrington and Starfish Prime events, bursts of electromagnetic energy, and using them against an adversary.

The result was the Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP). CHAMP created a payload package for America’s large fleet of cruise missiles capable of unleashing such a burst of energy. CHAMP, designed to fit on an AGM-86 bomber-launched cruise missile, could fly to a specific target in enemy territory and then detonate its warhead, instantly creating electronic mayhem. The resulting pulse of electromagnetic radiation would fry enemy electronics, rendering vital equipment worthless without, as the Air Force Research Lab put it, “damage to infrastructure and danger to life.”

An AGM-86 could fly low to penetrate enemy airspace and then from target to target, unleashing bursts of energy. CHAMP could reportedly attack up to seven targets in a one hour period, even shutting down the cameras meant to record the electromagnetic attack as it occurred. The AFRL’s Directed Energy office, which ran the capstone test that determined if CHAMP can fulfill its assigned missions, dryly confirmed the test “achieved the desired results.”

HiJENKS is the successor to CHAMP. The AGM-86 cruise missile was retired in 2019 and is no longer in service, so the Navy and the Air Force decided to collaborate on a newer, improved version. According to C4isrnet, HiJENKS is in the middle of its own capstone test. The test is taking place at Naval Air Station China Lake in southern California, the Navy’s version of Area 51.

HiJENKS, jointly developed by the Naval Research Lab and the Air Force Research Lab, is meant to “resolve operational issues” CHAMP had. It will also likely reduce the size and weight of the device itself, lending it to a variety of platforms. The Air Force, for example, might want to put CHAMP on a JASSM missile (top), while the Navy might want to put it on a drone. Other possible areas for improvement are improved energy output and the ability to generate more pulses.

Non-lethal weapons like CHAMP and HiJENKS are not without risks. A civilian airliner caught near an energy pulse could be placed in jeopardy. An EM weapon used against an electrical substation could send stray voltage into a nearby hospital. It should be kept in mind, however, that the alternative is to drop regular explosive bombs on such a target…with the possibility of some of the bombs hitting the hospital instead. The “hard kill” weapon would do significantly more damage than the “soft kill”. No weapon is without risks, but those that rely on electromagnetic pulse to achieve effects are safer than most.

 

 

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