June 26, 2008
Raytheon ADS – A Pain ray gun to keep us in line
Controlling an angry mob is not the task of any sane individual; sometimes it requires raw brute force. So far the use of tear gas and water canons has eased an awkward riot situation. There are some laser weapons, also called dazzlers, which are handheld devices that can temporarily blind criminals, while kinetic technologies include bean-bag rounds, water cannons and even sponge grenades filled with powdered irritant chemicals. According to a report by its Scientific Development Branch a new type of pain ray gun or Active denial system (ADS) has been developed which projects microwave-like radiation for distances of more than 500 yards, creating an excruciating and full-body burning sensation in anyone caught in its beam. The millimeter-wave rays penetrate skin to a depth of about 1/64in but cause no permanent damage, according to Raytheon, the system’s US-based maker. Prototypes of the weapon, called Silent Guardian, weighed about three tons and were mounted on trucks. The Scientific Development Branch, based in Sandridge in Hertfordshire, has been looking at a portable version of the ADS being developed by Raytheon for the US National Institute of Justice. The backpack-sized unit is being designed for American police. The first customer for the full-size active denial system is the US Air Force, which recently published a medical report from Penn State University on the weapon’s effects, in effect clearing it for use in the field. After more than 10,000 test firings on human volunteers, 99% of those exposed to the pain ray agreed that it was an effective deterrent, and only a handful suffered minor blisters.
The idea of firing energy beams at people is likely to meet with widespread concern and this is probably the single reason it has not yet been deployed to disperse antiwar protesters. There is also the danger that it could be misused. The weapon is designed to be fired in short bursts of between one and six seconds, at ranges of several hundred yards. When a serviceman was accidentally exposed to a high-power beam at close range, he received second-degree burns requiring skin grafts. This would have made the perfect protection for us against street miscreants who manage to run off with your wallet but are still in range for a skin splitting burnout.