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Raytheon pitches CHAMP derivative for air defence

Raytheon's high powered microwave demonstrator, which disabled electronics on small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) during a 2013 demonstration, has sparked renewed interest among Department of Defense customers.

Observers at a 2013 ground-based air defence demonstration on an Army site have recently resurfaced and expressed their interest in the technology, Steve Downie, Ktech site director for Raytheon Missile Systems told reporters June 20. The company has not secured a customer, but expects a request for proposals will be released within 18 months.

While Raytheon has mature technology on hand, federal budget constraints and an uneasy fiscal environment have stymied fielding, according to Downie. Still, a joint urgent operational needs requirement that could rapidly field the technology is being examined, he said.

As an electronic attack system, the demonstrator is the ground-based cousin to Raytheon’s computer-frying missile, the Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project or CHAMP. The demonstrator also resembles the active denial system’s configuration, including its reflector and steering mirror, but with a different mission set, Downie said.

The system is integrated with radar that tracks an unmanned vehicle and then determines whether it can pulse the target with its high-powered microwave source. Although there are decision points which require a command to fire, tracking could be automated, Downie said.

The company originally developed the HPM demonstrator for the Army, but its capability could be tailored for the U.S. Navy or Air Force, he said. Earlier this year, the Air Force and the US Department of Energy expressed interest in technology which could disable small UAVs infringing on nuclear sites.

“All the services can use the technology,” Downie said. “But the applications are sometimes drastically different, the mission determines the system capabilities.”

While the current prototype measures 6m (19.7ft), the company has also designed a system half the size with the same capability.

“When you build a system, you put it a lot of things you think you might need,” Downie said. “The 20ft [container] was almost a random choice and by the time we put everything in there we thought we needed, it was only 50 or 60% full.”

Raytheon plans to participate in upcoming range tests this year, which will demonstrate enhanced capabilities the company has developed since 2013.

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