Millimeter-Wave Energy as Weapon
The US Marine Corps says that it has developed a 95 GHz system as an antipersonnel “heat ray” and is conducting tests on animals and volunteers. The supposedly nonlethal weapon, called “active denial technology,” has been in the works for the last 10 years at the Air Force Research Laboratory (Kirtland, NM), in tandem with the Marine Corps’ Joint Non-lethal Weapons Directorate. About $40 million has been spent developing the weapon, according to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), although it could be nearly another decade before it is used in conflict. The earliest estimate for deployment is 2009. The system includes a millimeter-wave energy source with waveguides to direct the energy to a dish antenna measuring about 3 × 3 m, which forms a beam that can be swept across a battlefield or hostile crowd. The aim is to deter or drive off adversaries caught out in the open with a beam that inflicts pain without causing permanent damage. According to an AFRL fact sheet, the 95 GHz energy penetrates 1/64 in. into the skin and produces an intense burning sensation that stops when the transmitter is switched off or when the individual moves out of the beam.