Cyber Warfare: Missile Can Cripple Computers

Cyber Warfare: Missile Can Cripple Computers

Scientists are a step closer to developing a weapon that could change modern warfare with its potential to target cyber terrorists and disable enemy nuclear facilities by blowing up their computer systems.

Aircraft-maker Boeing has successfully tested the missile which has reportedly cost £24m to develop and it is claimed could cripple an entire country, without causing loss of life.

In a desert in the US state of Utah, scientists working on the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP) fired the rocket along a pre-programmed flight path. The microwaves it emitted permanently disabled computers inside a nearby military compound.

In fact, the first test was so successful, even the camera recording it is reported to have stopped working.

"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."

Although Boeing has released details of the test mission, the technology behind the missile is a closely-guarded secret.

Experts are reported to believe the weapon is equipped with an electronic pulse cannon - effectively a super-powered microwave oven - which causes voltage surges in electronic equipment. This destroys computers even if they are plugged into surge protectors.

But there are fears news of the project will encourage other nations to start developing their own electronic pulse weapons.

Professor Trevor Taylor from the Royal United Services Institute told the Mail on Sunday newspaper: "The historical record shows that important technologies developed in one country are developed elsewhere within a relatively short period - look what happened with regard to the USSR and nuclear weapons."