Technology truly has no surprises as the US Military has unveiled their first “Heat ray” weapon for use on battlefields and city streets as early as 2010. The weapon is called the “active denial system” and it fires an unseen energy beam that is supposed to cause a sudden burning / tingling feeling. The range of the weapon at 500 metres is a great deal further than other non-lethal weapons used for crowd control such as rubber bullets. The weapon result is known as “the good-bye effect” on the target as they run or dive for cover almost by instinct. The military told reporters that this weapons “would bridge the gap between shouting and shooting” in crowd control.
When I was in school I used to read all the military books we had in our library, most of them being out of date by years and I remember reading about “future weapons” that could be common place on the battlefield by the year 2000. One of them was the battlefield laser that would be able to fire a beam of light that would have a great deal of stopping power. The argument against such weapons was the fact that they required so much power to actually make use of them. The book said that the weapon would need a battery the size of a semi-truck trailer to make effective use with present day technology.
It would seem that the battery theory has been worked on in R&D as the new “heat-ray” is expected to be used by the US Military for crowd control and various other mission descriptions by as early as 2010. The vehicle that carries the apparatus is a hummer and it is not pulling a semi sized battery. There were some reservations raised that this weapon may not be effective on a target person who is used to extreme heat conditions but I disagree as the supposed “intense tingling effect” is far more than you get standing outside in the desert.
I am however concerned about this weapons effectiveness on crowds. Although it does appear not to have the soldiers testing the device (On BBC Report) writhing around in pain on the ground, it might have a greater effect on a child, especially an infant. You might argue that a infant is not likely to be in a setting where they would use such a weapon. If people are rioting in the streets and the military choose to use this tactic against them what happens if they use the wrong setting and cook people, for real. What happens if this device penetrates a wall of someone’s home who is not involved in the fight? There has been no mention as to how pinpointed this weapon is and what the effect on the people around the targets is.
The actual workings of the weapon give me similar pause as it doesn’t just give you a tingling feeling that is a total understatement. It actually raises the temperature of your blood. The military said “it penetrates the skin to a tiny depth, but not enough to leave lasting harm” – I question this as, what kind of time period is lasting to them and if this weapon is so new how do they know if it causes lasting harm? For all they know they could be causing problems inside your body that don’t show up right away. We all know what happens when a kitten is put in a microwave, some sick person does that about once a year. We should think a little more about lasting effects and the poor cooked kittens before we turn giant Microwaves on fellow man, non-lethal or not.