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In this occasional series, the National Post tells you everything you need to know about a complicated issue. Today, Stephen Starr looks at technology that fires electronic-disabling microwaves — not warheads — and how it could change the face of war.

Q: Are there really microwave missiles?
A: Yes. A three-year, US$40-million project to launch Boeing Phantom Works’ Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) became reality in the Utah desert last October. The missile — launched from an aircraft before flying over its target — sends out electromagnetic pulses that are designed to disable any electronics in a wide area — destroying an enemy’s computers and communications without killing enemy soldiers or civilians. In the October test, the missile fired microwaves at a two-storey building causing all the electronics and computers inside to go dark. Even the cameras monitoring the test were knocked out.

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