The U.S. military has unveiled a new weapon, a non-lethal heat ray weapon that causes a sensation of unbearable heat which appears to the victim to come from nowhere and causes a reflexive urge to flee.
The sensation of heat, according to AFP, is generated by a strong electromagnetic beam, and the non-lethal sensation of heat is so powerful that the immediate instinct of the victim is to flee. The target experiences a sudden blast of heat comparable to opening a very hot oven, and the pain makes the target reflexively step or run away.
The "Active Denial System" (ADS) has the capability to fire high-frequency millimeter electromagnetic waves at 95 gigahertz a distance of about 1,000 meters. According to RT, "the millimeter waves excite water and fat molecules in the body, instantly heating them via dielectric heating, causing intense pain."
Physorg.com reports that officials say the ADS is the military's "safest non-lethal capability" developed over 15 years. It was deployed briefly in Afghanistan in 2010, but never used in field operations.
AFP reports Marine Colonel Tracy Taffola, director of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, Marine Corps Base Quantico, said at a demonstration of the new weapon to members of the media: "You're not gonna see it, you're not gonna hear it, you're not gonna smell it: you're gonna feel it."
According to Daily Mail, some members of the media bravely stepped forward to test the heat. AFP Pentagon Correspondent Mathieu Rabechult, and Al-Jazeera TV camera woman Trudy Hutcherson, got zapped with the heat ray weapon.
US Marine Corps volunteers in plain clothes simulating a hostile mob dispersed immediately when the heat ray was turned on them.
Taffola said there are a lot of misconceptions about the weapon arising from confusing it with microwave. Taffola points out that the ADS is not the same as microwaves used for heating food. According to Pentagon information sources, the frequency of the blast from the weapon ensures that while the victim experiences extreme discomfort, no actual injury is caused. The weapon emits a ray at 95 gigahertz, a frequency that is only "absorbed very superficially," said Stephanie Miller, Pentagon spokesperson. Microwave frequency, in contrast, is around one gigahertz, which is more deeply penetrating than the 1/64th of an inch (0.4 millimeter) penetration that the ADS ray is able to achieve.
RT also reports that while microwaves will penetrate into human tissue about 17mm (0.67"), the millimeter waves used in the ADS only penetrate the top layers of skin, with most of the energy absorbed within 0.4 mm (1/64").
Officials, according to RT, say the risk of injury from the weapon was lower than risk from use of rubber bullets or pepper spray. Officials emphasized that it does not cause cancer or exacerbate it, nor does it cause fertility problems or birth defects.
AFP reports Miller said: "We have done over 11,000 exposures on people. In that time we've only had two injuries that required medical attention and in both cases injuries were fully recovered without complications."
The new weapon is designed for use in mob dispersal, checkpoint security, perimeter security, and infrastructure protection. Taffola explained that to avoid accidents the trigger is located in a truck far from the action and has an automatic shut-off after 3 seconds for safety. Taffola said: "This provides the safest means and also provides the greatest range."
Daily Mail reports program officials say the Department of Defence has spent about $120 million (£76 million) on the system, with most of the funding going to research on the biological side-effects of the weapon.
Suggestions are already being made about how protest mobs may protect themselves from the weapon. A reader commenting on Daily Mail, said: "Looks like protesters will be wearing cardboard boxes lined with aluminium foil from now - and carrying foil-lined inverted umbrellas to send the microwaves back to the user!"
Another reader wondered: "How come there always seems to be enough money around to develop new weapons?"