• CHAMP, the EMP weapon of the U.S. Air Force, attacks an enemy target. (Illustration)

CHAMP, the EMP weapon of the U.S. Air Force, attacks an enemy target. (Illustration) (Photo : USAF)

Russia claims its unmanned sixth-generation drone fighters will be armed with electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons capable of destroying the electronics on enemy aircraft at long-range.

Russia intends to deploy this EMP or microwave weapon by 2025 when its first sixth generation aircraft take flight. That deadline is suspect, however, since Russia only plans to take delivery of its first operational fifth generation PAK FA stealth fighters in 2025.

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The Russian EMP gun can "hit targets within a radius of tens of kilometers," claims Vladimir Mikheev, a director of state-owned Russian electronics firm KRET. Mikheev said the gun will only be mounted on unmanned sixth generation drones since there is no adequate way of preventing a pilot from either being disabled or killed by the deadly EMP burst.

"The electromagnetic pulse fired by the microwave weapon is so powerful that it is extremely difficult to protect the pilot from his own weapons," said Mikheev.

He believes these drones will be hypersonic (or capable of speeds of Mach 4 to Mach 5) and will have a flight ceiling of 100,000 meters, which is close to outer space.

The United States, however, already has an operational airborne EMP weapon named CHAMP for "Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project." This weapon, which is mounted on a specially modified cruise missile, is believed to have entered service in 2015.

The U.S. Air Force and Boeing said CHAMP is capable of targeting and destroying electrical systems without the collateral damage. In 2012, it was reported that a CHAMP test in Utah hit and disabled seven separate targets in one mission, demonstrating its accuracy and precision.

It is CHAMP's ability to target individual buildings and not cities that makes it so effective.

The Air Force has revealed that CHAMP is "an operational system already in our tactical air force."