US military unveils non-lethal heat ray weapon

Mar 11, 2012 by Mathieu Rabechault
Two styles of US Marine Corps trucks are seen carrying the Active Denial System, March 9th, 2012, at the US Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. The non-lethal weapon projects a strong electromagnetic beam up to 1000-meters. The beam creates heat so uncomfortable the natural response is to flee

A sensation of unbearable, sudden heat seems to come out of nowhere -- this wave, a strong electromagnetic beam, is the latest non-lethal weapon unveiled by the US military this week.

"You're not gonna see it, you're not gonna hear it, you're not gonna smell it: you're gonna feel it," explained US Marine Colonel Tracy Taffola, director the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, Marine Corps Base Quantico, at a demonstration for members of the media.

The effect is so repellant, the immediate instinct is to flee -- and quickly, as experienced by AFP at the presentation.

Taffola is quick also to point out the "Active Denial System" beam, while powerful and long-range, some 1000 meters (0.6 miles), is the military's "safest non-lethal capability" that has been developed over 15 years but never used in the field.

It was deployed briefly in Afghanistan in 2010, but never employed in an operation.

The technology has attracted safety concerns possibly because the beam is often confused with the commonly used by consumers to rapidly heat food.

A view of what the operater sees when working the Active Denial System, March 9, 2012, at the US Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

"There are a lot of out there," lamented Taffola, saying the Pentagon was keen to make clear what the weapon is, and what it is not.

The frequency of the blast makes all the difference for actual injury as opposed to extreme discomfort, stressed Stephanie Miller, who measured the system's bioeffects at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The system ray is 95 gigahertz, a frequency "absorbed very superficially," said Miller.

The beam only goes 1/64th of an inch (0.4 millimeter), which "gives a lot more safety."

"We have done over 11,000 exposures on people. In that time we've only had two injuries that required and in both cases injuries were fully recovered without complications," she said.

In contrast, is around one gigahertz, which moves faster and penetrates deeper -- which is how it can cook meat in an oven, said top researcher Diana Loree.

With the transmitter, a wave 100 times the power of a regular microwave oven cannot pop a bag of popcorn "because the radio frequency is not penetrating enough to heat enough to internally heat the material," she stressed.

To be used in mob dispersal, checkpoint security, perimeter security, area denial, infrastructure protection, the US military envisions a wide array of uses.

And in a bid to avert accidents, Taffola said the operator's trigger, in a truck far from the action, has an automatic shut-off after 3 seconds for safety.

"This provides the safest means and also provides the greatest range," he said.

The has not yet decided to order any of the ADS system, but Taffola said they would be ready if asked.

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User comments : 41

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MIBO
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 11, 2012
so how exactly do microwaves move faster?.
Ok there may be a small difference in propagation due to the atmosphere, but so impercebtibly small it's irrelevant.
Blakut
3.1 / 5 (7) Mar 11, 2012
If you don't feel it or see it, as they say, then the mob could randomly run towards the weapon, instead of away from it.
Callippo
2.6 / 5 (12) Mar 11, 2012
During tests the persons couldn't wear any metallic parts on their suit, or they would be seriously burned. I'm not sure if the usage of such weapon cannot be connected with serious injuries, for example with blindness. In medieval era the uncomfortable people were punished with blinding with red hot iron. During this "operation" the hot iron was moved closer to cornea until its thermal radiation caused the coagulation of proteins here in similar way, like the albumin from boiled egg. I'm afraid, that this new "non-lethal" weapon could work in the same way.
MIBO
3.9 / 5 (7) Mar 11, 2012
if it only affects the skin surface you would feel the heat on one side of your body.
You need to be pretty stupid to run towards the heat.
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2012
Around 100 KW and 100 GHz. Tall order, but I wonder how many makers are trying to cook up home brew versions?
dogbert
2.7 / 5 (9) Mar 11, 2012
How likely is blindness from damage to corneas and/or fusing of contact lenses to the cornea?
ryggesogn2
3.4 / 5 (17) Mar 11, 2012
Previous active denial systems use high powered lead projectiles.
powerup1
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 11, 2012
If you don't feel it or see it, as they say, then the mob could randomly run towards the weapon, instead of away from it.


They said if you read it correctly, that you won't see, hear, or smell it. But that you will feel it.
powerup1
4.2 / 5 (5) Mar 11, 2012
During tests the persons couldn't wear any metallic parts on their suit, or they would be seriously burned.


Can you site your source for that information?
Callippo
3.4 / 5 (10) Mar 11, 2012
IMO it generates sensation very close to feeling of heat near large camp fire, so you could find the proper direction for escaping rather simply. Anyway, it's just another reason for wearing a tin foil hat, which I'm using all the time with success.
Hengine
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2012
0.4mm penetration. Your eye lids aren't much more than that.

I don't like the sound of this.
Callippo
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 11, 2012
0.4mm penetration. Your eye lids aren't much more than that.
It's just the thickness of cornea. Of course, the eye lids should provide some protection, but it may apply to volunteers, who were informed first, not for uninformed stressed people. For examples, teasers are claimed to be safe, but stressed people can be shocked to death even witch much weaker discharge.
kaasinees
Mar 11, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Callippo
2.8 / 5 (8) Mar 11, 2012
Can you site your source for that information?
Of course, for example here you can read:

"The experimenters banned glasses and contact lenses to prevent possible eye damage to the subjects, and in the second and third tests removed any metallic objects such as coins and keys to stop hot spots being created on the skin. They also checked the volunteers' clothes for certain seams, buttons and zips which might also cause hot spots."
trippingsock
not rated yet Mar 11, 2012
If you don't feel it or see it, as they say, then the mob could randomly run towards the weapon, instead of away from it.

Would the mob run for 1000 meters thinking it's ablaze, I don't think so. They run away from it, because they know 'the burning' will end, eventually.
TheQuietMan
2 / 5 (4) Mar 11, 2012
This device has been out for years, sitting on the shelf. It is also used in several prisons.

You can not run into the pain this device causes. It is too intense.

It is not microwave, not does it cause heating of metallic surfaces.

I wonder about the long term effects myself, but focusing in the eye is pretty nonsensical. It is a torture weapon.
FreDraken
not rated yet Mar 11, 2012
This has been 'available' to the military for years, just like the LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Denial) system. I doubt it will ever be used because the the leftist lamestream media will make it their #1 story for ten days the first time it's used in the middle east against "helpless civilians (wielding RPGs)". The Fishwrap of Record (NY Times) will tirelessly air every foreign accusation of "inhumane treatment", "genocidal horror only being used against Muslims", etc etc.
So, exactly what is the point of paying billions for the development of high-tech weapons systems for which we know in advance can never be used because it would give Americans an unfair advantage in a zone of armed conflict? American troops getting AK-47 rounds through their heads is routine now; THAT we can tolerate. But insurgents attacking an American FOB or convoy must NOT be repelled by a high-tech heat ray... but we can certainly shoot them with rifle bullets and kill them or make them quadriplegics for life.
hyongx
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2012
Previous active denial systems use high powered lead projectiles.

Well, I think they also used some rubber projectiles. Which I would suspect might be more portable and cheaper than 100 KW heat ray. lol.
nkalanaga
not rated yet Mar 11, 2012
MIBO: I think they meant move "into the target" faster, not "through the atmosphere". Heating just the surface would allow most of the heat to escape to the atmosphere rather than be conducted into the target.

You're right that all electromagnetic radiation travels at the same effective speed through air, except the few frequencies blocked by the atmosphere, and those aren't any use as weapons.
julianpenrod
2.3 / 5 (9) Mar 11, 2012
As "defined", this is only a tactical weapon, aimed solely at handling an immediate incident. It is not strategic. In a sense, it ameliorates the symtom, but not the condition. It turns away aggressors, but does not end their aggression. And the New World Order refuses the absolute, utterly reliable cure for aggression, being someone else's friend, not their enemy. They can see no further than killing or enslaving. Which means this is not what it seems. It glosses over the fact that the NWO only understands complete capitulation or death and that, if this device fails in quelling aggression, they will easily resort to violence. Or, it is designed for some other clandestine purpose and only presented as a "non-violent reaction to aggression".
Deadbolt
1 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2012
I wonder how much power you'd need to make a small version that only goes a couple of meters.

You could wear it as a suit and it fires these rays all around you, so no one can approach.
hyongx
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2012
I wonder how much power you'd need to make a small version that only goes a couple of meters.

You could wear it as a suit and it fires these rays all around you, so no one can approach.

I suspect tremendous body odor would be cheaper.
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2012
IMO the metalized PET foil would provide a sufficient protection against such a weapon. Or you could use the aluminum dust and/or reflecting shield to protect your face. Due the longer wavelength of microwaves, even the rough metalized surface becomes quite reflective.
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2012
Ah yes, Agonizer technology. Moral clarity for future protesters. What government will be first to use it?
Callippo
1 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2012
You know, during street demonstrations many cars ignite often from strange reasons. I'm interested, whether this device could disintegrate electronic devices (mobile phones, iPods and similar expensive toys), initiate sparks and occasional explosions of nearby standing cars and/or gas stations. The microwave oven radiation can do all of it quite well.
Shadetree_Engineer
3 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2012
They always keep talking about how people will run away instead of continuing to threaten the well-being of troops - like that's why this is a nice & friendly technology. But what about those who are locked inside of chain-link holding areas? How many minutes do you think they can take when they have nowhere to run to? Have you ever tried to save a drowning person by swimming out to them? You can die from doing that, as the victim will in their panic try to climb on top of you. In the very same way, even your very best friend will tear your eyes out as the two of you spend time inside one of these holding tanks. The guy manning the heat ray will be laughing about how easy it is to disable the safety limiters without getting caught. Anyone who wishes to dominate other people is secretly hoping this technology becomes commonplace enough that even they will be able to get their own.
verkle
1.4 / 5 (10) Mar 11, 2012
Wonder how many millisieverts of radiation this gives to the people people getting zapped. Would like to see more technical details.

Whoever wrote the article is not too informed.
Regular microwave oven frequency is 2.4GHz, not 1GHz.

10GHz is close to the Wireless Gigabit frequency.

Estevan57
2.1 / 5 (22) Mar 11, 2012
So, how long before we sell a hundred to Israel?
Callippo
2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 11, 2012
So, how long before we sell a hundred to Israel?
LOL, Israel developed it. But until it would be just the Arabians, who are devastating the western cities during street demonstrations, the shouldn't be surprised with it. The Arabians shouldn't forget, they founded the modern civilization - so they should help to build it, not to destroy it with their medieval fanaticism.
Howhot
1 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2012
Just in time for the UN-IPCC to control the roaring crowds of Global Warming Deniers flooding the streets in protest of the sun being too hot!
volantis
not rated yet Mar 11, 2012
The microwaves do not move faster or slower. Light has just one speed. What the author meant to say is the microwaves have lower frequency and therefore can penetrate deeper than higher frequency waves.
aroc91
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2012
Wonder how many millisieverts of radiation this gives to the people people getting zapped. Would like to see more technical details.


Considering the sievert scale measures the relative dose of ionizing radiation and 95GHz is a longer wavelength than even visible light, none.
Burnerjack
5 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2012
Kaasinees, you seem quite to quite the left wing presumtive twit. Even if it were to be deployed against street protesters, better to open up with live fire? After all, works great for Libya and Syria, right? You're right, better to kill 'em all. I mean, if you can't maintain public order without killing people, what's the point, right?
Callippo
1 / 5 (4) Mar 12, 2012
The microwaves do not move faster or slower. Light has just one speed.
The physicists just believe so - me not. But which experiment really demonstrated, the speed of microwaves in vacuum is the same, like the speed of visible radiation?
Considering the sievert scale measures the relative dose of ionizing radiation and 95GHz is a longer wavelength than even visible light, none.
We should consider another facts, than just wavelength - for example in this study the long molecules of DNA were broken just with long wavelength radiation because of their size. http://www.techno...v/24331/ To assume blindly, that the terrahertz radiation CANNOT be mutagenic because of its long wavelength could be a huge mistake.

Howhot
1 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2012
Callippo, another one of the rightwing handlers on PhysOrg's, here to deny your every leftist leaning science comment,

The microwaves do not move faster or slower. Light has just one speed.


In response

The physicists just believe so - me not.


That about says it all.
Callippo
1 / 5 (4) Mar 12, 2012
another one of the rightwing handlers on
I'm not leftist or righwing, AWT is unbiased by its very nature. At the moment, when you attempt to sort it somewhere, you're misunderstanding this concept. The microwaves can escape from black hole, whereas the shortwavelenght radiation not. It indicates, the microwaves are less bended/dispersed with gravitational lens, therefore they're faster. Which is why we are observing the microwave radiation only from the most distant areas of Universe, after all. You may think, that the visible light is not fast enough to keep the pace with Universe expansion.
HydraulicsNath
Mar 12, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Mar 12, 2012
Come on guys HEAT RAY! this is so awesome!
Not if your the citizenry (and target) of the technology. Geeze. I agree though it is pretty cool.

Ok Callippo, What is AWT? I'm not trying to be picky; I was just trying to understand your comment on the speed of light; (Micro-wave vs Infrared). Usually speed of light deniers suggest the kookier class if you know what I mean.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2012
and here i was all these years thinking it was the microwaves oscilating the water molecules in food creating friction and thereby heat -- thus heating our food using microwaves --- silly me because if that were true all these analogies to microwave ovens just really wouldn't make sense to compare to a a beam THAT DOWN RIGHT TRIES TO COOK YOUR SKIN -- your first instinct is to flee darn right it is -- its a heat ray - a death ray -- a pain ray who cares -- it's horrible and we should demand its dismantled.

the militaries civil usage of an asymetrical weapon.
Kinedryl
1 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2012
Ok Callippo, What is AWT?
Aether Wave Theory. It models the 3D spreading of light with 2D spreading of ripples at the water surface. Their speed depends on the wavelength as well and the lowest speed just corresponds the microwave photons in vacuum. http://hyperphysi...ngth.gif

xen_uno
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 12, 2012
Better bone up on definitions of both gravitational lensing and refraction, Cal. Gravitational lensing is the warping of space, with the degree of bending for electromagnetic radiation having no relation to it's frequency. Refraction through, is frequency related, but only occurs at density change interfaces in matter ... such as gas/liquid, gas/solid, even cold gas/hot gas (ie a mirage).
Skepticus
1 / 5 (3) Mar 12, 2012
I want one to crisp the skin of my cold leftover roasted chicken!
HydraulicsNath
5 / 5 (1) Mar 15, 2012
By having a heat ray we may further our advance into more technological and shall i say more improved ways to control outbreaks of protest and rebellion. eg. the ways that people in London carried on and terrified the inhabitants of the city.
It is also needless to say that the police requires some more efficient ways of discovering whom are the head people involved in causing that sudden uproar.