Has this direct-energy system been deployed to the Mexican border?
Officials are mum about the U.S. military’s spooky heat ray that has bizarre ramifications on its intended targets.
It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them… I saw them staggering and falling, and their supporters turning to run.” Since the first appearance of the “heat-ray” in H G Wells’s The War of the Worlds, ray guns have been a staple feature of science fiction: the classic sign of overwhelming technological superiority. But they are no longer fiction. Last month, Lt Col John Dorrian admitted that the US military’s brand-new Active Denial System (ADS) had been shipped to Afghanistan, the first time it has been present in an active theatre of war. According to the top brass, it is a “non-lethal, directed-energy, counter-personnel weapon”. Among the troops, however, its favoured description is rather shorter: “the pain ray”.
Compared with most military vehicles, the device looks relatively harmless – like one of the broadcasting trucks you see outside big sporting events: an anonymous-looking military transport with what appears to be a square satellite dish mounted on top. But it contains an extraordinary new weapon, capable of causing immense discomfort from half a mile away without – its makers claim – doing any lasting damage.
The ADS works by projecting a focused beam of 3.2mm wave electromagnetic radiation at a human target. This heats the water and fat molecules on the skin, causing their temperature to rise by up to 50C. Philip Sherwell, a Sunday Telegraph reporter who tried out the ADS in 2007, describes it as “unbearably uncomfortable, like opening a roasting hot oven door”. The immediate instinct is to escape the beam and seek cover – at which point the effect subsides.
In some quarters, the ADS has been hailed as the future of crowd control. Kelley Hughes, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD), which oversaw its development, says that “the ADS provides our troops with our most advanced, non-lethal escalation-of-force option. It will support a full spectrum of operations ranging from non-lethal methods of crowd and mob dispersal, checkpoint security, area denial and clarification of intent.” READ MORE: