Skip to comments.Microwave weapon intensified by sweaty skin
Posted on 09/16/2006 7:46:57 PM PDT by neverdem
The Pentagon's "less-lethal" microwave-based crowd-control weapon the Active Denial System (ADS) produces potentially harmful hotspots when used in built-up areas, and its effects can be intensified by sweaty skin, tests have revealed. The flaws call into question the weapon's usefulness in hot conditions, like those in Iraq.
The ADS fires a microwave beam intended to heat skin without causing damage, while inflicting enough pain to force the victim to move away. However, tests of the weapon showed that reflections off buildings, water or even the ground can produce peak energy densities twice as high as the main beam. Contact with sweat or moist fabric such as a sweaty waistband further intensifies the effect.
The safety concerns, revealed in the details of 14 tests carried out by the US air force between 2002 and 2006, were acquired under a Freedom of Information request by Edward Hammond of the Sunshine Project USA, which campaigns against the use of biological and non-lethal weapons.
Alcohol consumption Test details released to the organisation last year revealed that volunteers taking part in the tests had been banned from wearing glasses or contact lenses because of safety fears.
Active Denial Systems under development include small, portable versions and vehicle and aircraft-mounted systems. The new tests ranged from simple experiments to determine pain thresholds to large-scale war games involving hundreds of subjects. Some tests involved finding whether alcohol increased subjects' ability to withstand the beam and how trained dogs responded, to determine the effect of accidental exposure on dog handling teams.
Nevertheless, the weapon may be safer than some alternatives. More than 9000 experimental exposures to the ADS have produced just six cases of blistering and one second-degree burn caused by an accidental overexposure. The US army wants permission to deploy the system in Iraq, but the decision has been delayed while tests continue.
Fellow citizens The secretary of the US Air Force, Michael Wynne, said recently that new non-lethal weapons like the microwave ADS should be used on Americans before being deployed to places like Iraq.
"If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation," he told CNN.
Hammond hopes these comments may stimulate debate on the use of the ADS and other non-lethal weapons. "I think that you would see a strongly negative public reaction and quite possibly an increase in violence if US police were to use the ADS in riot control," he told New Scientist. "I'm sad to say that such an outpouring of concern would probably be considerably more muted if the weapon was deployed in Iraq first."
Details of US microwave-weapon tests revealed http://www.newscientisttechnology.com/article/mg18725095.600 22 July 2005
Police toy with 'less lethal' weapons http://www.newscientisttechnology.com/article/dn7326 02 May 2005
Microwave beam weapon to disperse crowds http://www.newscientisttechnology.com/article/dn1470 29 October 2001
Active Denial System, US Air Force (pdf format) http://qurl.com/vbpsc
Sunshine Project http://www.sunshine-project.org/
What happens if the target's wearing an aluminum-foil hat? No, seriously, I'm curious.
Uh, Captian Kirk, set the phasers to 1/2 if you don't want to hurt anyone?
Guess the old M2 is a better deterrant.
Do they get sweaty in the Middle East?
How about some honesty on the subject of Hammond... an anti-American lefty who opposes US use of any weapons at all.
Criminal Number 18F
"What happens if the target's wearing an aluminum-foil hat? No, seriously, I'm curious."
You seem the guy to ask this question of, why don't the tin foil guys just wear the old pre-Reagan, army steel pot helmet?
No idea, but I'm just imagining some poor sucker getting that thing turned on him and having his head blow up.
"No idea, but I'm just imagining some poor sucker getting that thing turned on him and having his head blow up."
Rent the movie scanners sometime.
I don't remember if I've actually seen the movie all the way through, but I definitely remember the scene you have in mind.
Shirley they thought about this ahead of time. Common sense.
Maybe they can hose everybody down with antiperspirant before they turn on the nuke ray.
If any one else here has been at the receiving end of perhaps hundreds of billy club armed cops charging at you.
You can verify my point that there is always a Little sweating involved in riots.
Thats when they need to set it to popcorn level! Watch their little heads explode into Jihad-Pop Popcorn!
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Please explain one more time:
Why exactly is this a problem?
= "If we don't want to use it on ourselves, we should not use it on our enemies." Great logic, that.
If they are so damned worried about a little tissue trauma perhaps the bad guys would prefer the 62 grains of lead out of the end of the M-16. IDIOTS!
But lethal weapons are ok? This is a strange lib group.
Incredible logic, isn't it? But then again, Michael Wynne is Air Force. Let's pray that you will never, ever hear a Marine say something so stupid.
I don't know about the tinfoil...
But, I was under the impression that microwaves were used for cooking food because they had wavelengths which resonated with the bondlengths of the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water. Thus, food with water content had high energy absorption and heated up quickly.
Same logic would apply with water in the body.
If that's the case, it's not hard to believe that sweat spots would heat up since they obviously have high water content.
But the idea that this would not be effective in a desert environment like Iraq doesn't make much sense.
If there's a materials science person out there, pls update me if I'm incorrect.
YOU HAVE OFFENDED US!!!!!
This is sort of odd.
By that logic we should dismantle all of our bombs and extend gun control to the military. This guy is a moron.
How 'bout that!?! Same as broadcast TV signals. This thing has some potential............FRegards
This has to rank as one of the most disturbingly asinine statements I've ever heard from a military representative.
It sounds like a solution to me.
Surely someone here understands why we need non-lethal tools to break up riots.
Surely someone here understands why that, or those, tools have to be acceptable here in the US before we use them around the world.
This is why it's a good idea to turn off the weather radar in a plane after landing -- so you don't fry the lineboy. ;)
Hmm... what if someone in the crowd has a bag of popcorn in their pocket... edgy troops could think they're being fired at :)
"If they are so damned worried about a little tissue trauma perhaps the bad guys would prefer the 62 grains of lead out of the end of the M-16. IDIOTS!"
Yeah, what he said. And I like the part where we need to test it on AMERICANS. Howsa bout some real-world testing in oh, I don't know, maybe the SUNNI TRIANGLE!!!
LOL! Try it out domestically. The ACLU keeps pushing for desegregation of the prison population in California prisons. The Blacks and Mexicans get along just swell. It won't be long before you have results.
Desegregate California prisons. Results should be forthcoming.
What happens if the targets had peed in their pants?
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