Like every technology ever created to help mankind, the U.S. military can swallow it, digest it, and spit out something destructive. Microwave technology is no different. The following is a quote from a spokesman for the Air Force Research Laboratory:
For the first millisecond, it just felt like the skin was warming up. Then it got warmer and warmer and you felt like it was on fire…. As soon as you’re away from that beam your skin returns to normal and there is no pain.
The spokesman is describing the Active Denial System (ADS), a non-lethal, directed-energy weapon designed for area denial, perimeter security and crowd control. Here you can see it mounted on a vehicle:
Believe it or not, it works on the same principle as a simple microwave oven. It excites the water and fat molecules in the skin, instantly heating them. There is one significant difference with a regular microwave oven though: the ADS only penetrates the top layers of skin, up to 0,4 mm. This causes a sensation of 44°C on the skin, without actually damaging critical structures inside of the skin. No human test subject could endure this for more than 5 seconds. Furthermore, the beam can be focused up to 700 meters away, and penetrate thick clothing. You’ll also have no idea where it came from or where you should run to if you don’t actually see the ADS. The beam leaves no sound, sight or smell.
According to Wired Magazine, the ADS has been rejected for fielding in Iraq due to Pentagon fears that it would be regarded as an instrument of torture.
Do you thing the U.S. military should continue developing this weapon? Do you think it is a better alternative to other crowd control weapons, such as gas grenades or water cannons?