Born into Generation X, I grew up with the threat of nuclear war — and all its corollaries, from visions of mushroom clouds to “duck and cover” drills in high school to Terminator movies, and of course, the ever-present worry that one day a sneaky Soviet satellite would detonate way up in the sky and fry all of our electronics with an “electromagnetic pulse.”
So imagine my surprise when the U.S. Air Force confirmed last week that it’s developed an electromagnetic pulse weapon of its own, and that Boeing (NYSE: BA ) is helping to build it.
A CHAMP-ion idea
The weapon in question: Boeing’s “CHAMP,” short for Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project. It’s essentially the old nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon that we used to worry so much about — but without the nuclear part. CHAMP carries a small generator that emits microwaves to fry electronics with pinpoint accuracy. It targets not nations or cities but individual buildings, blacking out their electronics rather than blowing up physical targets (or people).