CME EMP & TEOTWAWKI or… CHAMP

One of these days there will come the big grid-frying EMP caused by a CME thus bringing on TEOTWAWKI.

EMPs can also be caused by a nuclear weapon.

On the other hand, this is in the offing.

From Boeing:

CHAMP – Lights Out
By Randy Jackson

A recent weapons flight test in the Utah desert may change future warfare after the missile successfully defeated electronic targets with little to no collateral damage.

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., successfully tested the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) during a flight over the Utah Test and Training Range.

CHAMP, which renders electronic targets useless, is a non-kinetic alternative to traditional explosive weapons that use the energy of motion to defeat a target.

During the test, the CHAMP missile navigated a pre-programmed flight plan and emitted bursts of high-powered energy, effectively knocking out the target’s data and electronic subsystems. CHAMP allows for selective high-frequency radio wave strikes against numerous targets during a single mission.

“This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,” said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works. “In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy’s electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive.”

Are you prepared?

We had better start hardening our technology or we are in deep trouble.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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32 Responses to CME EMP & TEOTWAWKI or… CHAMP

  1. mamajen says:

    I woke up the other day to an inexplicable power outage, and a CME was the first thing that came to mind…until I realized that the baby monitor, beeping because it had lost its signal, probably would have been fried, too. It’s a creepy thing to think about when you have a little one who relies on baby formula, but if things were really desperate I would probably go kidnap a cow and hope for the best.

  2. Bev says:

    So future wars will be fought with club, sword, and mace– all on foot or horseback? Better study up on the Lord of the Rings battle scenes!

  3. cajuncath says:

    At the rate these innovations and developments are going, Star Wars may ultimately look rather primitive by comparison. There will be much that can be damaged in future warfare.

  4. Thomas S says:

    Is “Keith Coleman” an alias of Alec Trevelyan?

  5. Scott W. says:

    I knew I shouldn’t have gotten rid of my vacuum-tube radio. :)

  6. acardnal says:

    Keep you pencils, paper and manual typewriters handy.

  7. Cordelio says:

    Forget about secret military experiments. Apparently, a solar-powered death ray has already been constructed in London, where it has melted cars, blinded pedestrians and caught a tonsorial parlour’s carpet on fire:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/tomphillips/a-london-skyscraper-is-melting-cars-with-a-solar-powered-dea

    Can one of your London correspondents verify this for us?

  8. inexcels says:

    At least an E.M.P. will greatly simplify the tasks of purchasing, upgrading, and servicing computer hardware. From the thousands of varieties of electronic equipment we have now, we will be reduced to a mere two: over-hard and over-easy.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    No, people do not get what will happen. Those who are in power, their cronies and their supporters, will have the means to move in this environment with new technology, most likely already invented.

    The rest of us Catholic smucks on the ground, the grunts in the fight against the real Power of the Air, with a commander who is forever angry that he has lost the war, will get creamed.

    That is what happens in persecution-the William Cecils and Robert Dudleys in this world will comply and get the info. The rest of us will either capitulate or decide to die the death of martyrs in one way or another.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Cordelio true and not the first time-http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23941325

    it is the way the glare is coming off the windows

  11. Jerry says:

    I notice the description conveniently fails to disclose the effect of the high-power microwaves on human beings in the vicinity of the target electronic devices.

  12. sirlouis says:

    Jerry, the EMP is apparently far too brief to be biologically dangerous. The danger to human beings would come from failure of some electric current control devices and consequent disruption of electrical power to elevators, ventilators, and the like and, perhaps most importantly, the sudden shutdown of automobiles which these days are kept going by microprocessors.

    I would be interested in knowing how robust a Faraday cage would need to be to frustrate this weapon. And I note that the Vatican is perhaps a step ahead in defending against such a weapon, having used a Faraday cage to electromagnetically isolate the Sistine Chapel during the most recent conclave.

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    My enthusiasm for new weapons is always tempered now by the realization that today we have it, tomorrow they have it.

  14. netokor says:

    I thought that strong, every-200-years solar CME had recently missed us and that I had one less thing to worry about.

  15. Jerry says:

    sirlouis: don’t forget personal medical devices such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, and implantable cardiac defibrillators.

  16. VetusMores says:

    Jerry: those and other things, including refrigerators and water pumps. Because millions would die in just the first couple of weeks (those in hospitals, attached to life-saving equipment, would of course perish first) with many millions more soon after that, such a weapon is by definition one of mass destruction, and therefore objectively immoral.

  17. jflare says:

    “Keep you pencils, paper and manual typewriters handy.”

    That’s assuming you can find that last in the first place. Some 8 years or so past, I had the thought that filling out some non-electronic forms would be easier and neater if I simply typed it out using a typewriter like the electric ones I used in high school.

    Big surprise: I couldn’t find even one typewriter, not even at an office equipment and supply store.
    Ouch.

  18. jflare says:

    I doubt if this would be classified as a WMD in this form. WMDs, by definition, inflict catastrophic damage to property and mass death to humans in an area over a very small period of time. An EMP weapon would not typically do that. Notice that in the video, the people involved in the project mentioned that they “hit” every target they “attacked” , while the simulation showed a drone flying over a city and directing EM energy downward onto particular buildings.
    Essentially, this device would accomplish the same function as a smart-bomb, but without the physical destruction of property AND without killing people inside. Yes, if someone had a pace-maker or relied upon electronic devices for minute-to-minute survival, that person might not survive. In all honesty though, someone who needs a pace-maker probably should not be involved in a war-fighting effort. We do have standards about physical fitness for a reason!

    As an aside, for all that I admire the intent to keep warfare “civil”, I’m strongly inclined toward being skeptical about fussiness with WMDs. I don’t believe we’re more moral in taking four months to kill 3,000 people with 20,000 than in taking four minutes to kill the same 3,000 people with a nuclear bomb. I think you’ll find that the deaths are still ugly–and still likely to be quite un-needed–either way. It’s true enough that some acts of war will be more brutal than others, but warfare in general isn’t very compatible with moral virtue.

  19. jflare says:

    Um, that should’ve read “20,000 bullets”.

  20. Peter in Canberra says:

    You know what Albert Einstein is reputed to have said: “I don’t know what the 3rd world war will be fought with but I know the 4th will be with sticks and stones”

  21. Lynne says:

    Sirlouis, don’t forget airplanes (the ones up in the air).

  22. The Masked Chicken says:

    ” such a weapon is by definition one of mass destruction, and therefore objectively immoral.”

    Just as with the atom bomb, it is only objectively immoral when used against a civilian population and even then…. Controlled nuclear explosions can be very useful in certain mining operations and nuclear reactors, so not all uses of atomic fission or fusion are objectively immoral.

    On the other hand, I am not so sure that CHAMP technology really is, objectively, immoral. The atomic bomb is objectively immoral because there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide from certain death, but in this case, it simply regresses the society to about 1920, which, while painful, is not unsurvivable by the majority of the population (except that the skills necessary have been lost because of technological substitutes, but that is not a moral problem, per se).

    The Chicken

  23. inexcels says:

    such a weapon is by definition one of mass destruction, and therefore objectively immoral.

    From the video, my impression was that this is a precision-targeting weapon, not one with massive wide-range indiscriminate targeting as in a nuke. In which case, if this weapon is objectively immoral then ALL weapons are objectively immoral. In short, I disagree.

    That said, would those we currently have in power abuse the heck out of this weapon if given half a chance? They certainly would.

  24. Cantor says:

    inexcels –

    The definition of a “weapon of mass destruction” is quite flexible. Keep in mind that Tsarnaev is so charged, despite the diminutive size of his bomb. (Though I am mindful of the words of Dylan Thomas: ‘After the first death, there is no other’.)

    Using weaponized EMP has been a goal for decades, for both command & control decapitation strikes and for civilian chaos as a by-product.

    Essential services would well be paralyzed as electronic ignitions fail on all vehicles, including emergency vehicles. Utilities, including water, could be unavailable for long stretches pending restoration of the electronic grid. How many might die in a major city unable to pump water into its system? Deliver food? Heat/cool its residents?

    People in power might abuse the weapon, certainly. Those seeking to overthrow those in power, given the chance, most certainly would.

  25. inexcels says:

    Cantor:

    The definition of a “weapon of mass destruction” is quite flexible.

    Which is why it’s also useless. The day a pressure cooker becomes a WMD is the day WMD ceases to have any meaning. Apparently WMD functionally means “a weapon used to indiscriminately kill civilians,” but that can be anything.

    Essential services would well be paralyzed as electronic ignitions fail on all vehicles, including emergency vehicles.

    Again: This sounds like, assuming the video is accurate, a precision-strike weapon. It wouldn’t be able to cause that kind of widespread off-grid power failure, unless you fired a whole lot of them.

    Utilities, including water, could be unavailable for long stretches pending restoration of the electronic grid.

    Only if you specifically targeted a critical component of a civilian power grid, but that’s a reflection on the use of the weapon, not the weapon itself. You can specifically target civilians with any weapon. You could achieve much the same effect by blowing up a power plant or a relay station with conventional explosives.

    People in power might abuse the weapon, certainly. Those seeking to overthrow those in power, given the chance, most certainly would.

    I don’t see why it’s only a possibility that a government would abuse the weapon but a certainty that an anti-government force would. Some rebellions are far more moral than the regimes they seek to overthrow. How often that’s the case in practice is open to debate.

    Mind, I’m not really a “supporter” of this weapon per se, but neither am I condemning it. There are ways this weapon could be used to paralyze an enemy military unit with minimal casualties: fire it over a command center, for instance. That’s not a bad thing.

  26. JGR says:

    Sobering thoughts, all. But it doesn’t take high tech weaponry to render electronics useless, at least temporarily. When my family experienced the 9.0 earthquake in Japan a couple of years ago, electricity was purposely shut down in much of the country for at least 36 hours so that nuclear facilities could be tested for safety (and rightly so, as it turned out). It could have been longer had Japan not had the ability to re-route power around the affected Fukushima power station.
    We now keep hard copies of all our current financial, medical, vital records, etc. in a sturdy bag ready to go at a moment’s notice.

  27. acricketchirps says:

    The day a pressure cooker becomes a WMD is the day WMD ceases to have any meaning.

    You haven’t tasted my mother-in-law’s cooking.

  28. John Nolan says:

    During the Cold War knocking out communications at an early stage using the EMP from high altitude detonations was not considered desirable, since intra-war negotiation was a part of thermo-nuclear strategy.

  29. Weapons and stuff, political maneuverings, sabre-rattling, I’m starting to consider as stage-dressing. Haven’t we already been “invaded”? Most are already Marxist, we live in a KGB-type paranoid environment [constant surveillance, don’t know who to trust, media is controlled, hard to find faithful Catholic congregations, the government no longer serves but frightens…its the Russian playbook] and any dangerous weapons, EMPs or otherwise will likely be used to subjugate us further. Counter-defense will be for the chosen.

    Really, its really about saying the rosary and true dedication to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

    A Faraday Cage can be made out of metal trashcans and simple cheap metal stuff. Its not a bad idea to do what we can for ourselves. The question is how big a cage can you make? garage size for all the solar panels, batteries and devices, including your car and all? Isn’t everything managed digitally now?
    Oh and aluminum foil does protect from electronic interference. Covering t.v. settop-boxes, radios, and various communication devices with aluminum foil became an ordinary task by phone and cable guys on and around Tyson’s Corner [highest point in Fairfax County] to block all the government-style communications, to get customers’ stuff working. The D.C. area is chock-full of every kind of agency and embassy spying. Yawn – been going on for decades. See? Those tin-foil hats do have a purpose.

    Anyone else notice that when they get out of this area for a bit, the mind clears? Maybe its cleaner air, maybe its…uhm, something else? Got aluminum foil? LOL

  30. jflare says:

    “That said, would those we currently have in power abuse the heck out of this weapon if given half a chance? They certainly would.”

    True enough, but then, every person in power in the world might be prone to abuse, say, a hand grenade. But a hand grenade isn’t considered a WMD and wouldn’t be banned from use in a military context.

    “Mind, I’m not really a “supporter” of this weapon per se, but neither am I condemning it. There are ways this weapon could be used to paralyze an enemy military unit with minimal casualties: fire it over a command center, for instance. That’s not a bad thing.”

    If I have a choice, I”d much rather spend $50,000 on one of these than the same $50,000 on a smart-bomb. This technology could incapacitate an enemy’s ability to fight, thereby causing him to be more likely to negotiate into terms we want.
    Granted, there’s a good chance that someone innocent will still be injured; some civilian with pace-maker may chance to be walking by when we fly over. At the same time, the alternative smart-bomb would almost certainly kill that civilian with pace-maker AND most of the people inside the building at the time.

    I don’t believe in condemning many acts of war for their alleged “inhumanity”, but I DO believe in keeping warfare as “clean” as possible. If we can avoid shedding blood, that’s all to the good, in my book.
    ..Which we seem to agree about.

    “During the Cold War knocking out communications at an early stage using the EMP from high altitude detonations was not considered desirable, since intra-war negotiation was a part of thermo-nuclear strategy.”

    Um, do you have any particular references to back that notion?
    I seem to recall from my years on active duty that we typically expected that, nuclear war or not, we WOULD probably attack enemy communications infrastructure AND expect that we’d suffer similar attacks being waged against us.

    It would make sense, really. One does not expect to negotiate a truce or treaty from the operational end of the fighting. We would expect to use whatever communications capabilities would be necessary–and available–to conduce diplomatic efforts.

    That WOULD mean that “we” and “they” might both attack comm going to troops “in the field”, but not comm going to the final decision-makers.

  31. inexcels says:

    You haven’t tasted my mother-in-law’s cooking.

    Hahaha. I stand corrected.

  32. The Cobbler says:

    There was an episode of Johnny Quest where Dr. Quest was working on a gun that was supposed to suck energy out of a technological target. The “para-power raygun” they called it. Dr. Quest seemed to think being able to disable an army without killing its soldiers was something like a humanitarian advancement.

    That was the same episode with the robot spy that inspired the giant robot in the Incredibles, by the way.

    While we’re on fictional equivalents of EMP/microwave weaponry, in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back the Rebel Alliance uses an “ion cannon” to disable imperial star destroyers so the rebels can safely escape. I don’t know that a blast of ions would hold together well enough to hit a long-distance target in or out of an atmosphere, but assuming it did then it would have the advantage of working in space in principle (no need for air to propogate the electromagnetic wave as in basic EMPs). I’d imagine the microwave missile would be more effective though; the idea of shooting a stream of ions at a distant target to fry its electronics seems like a brute force method by comparison.