Earlier in June this year, military police were sent to clear a crowd of protesters near the White House. Investigations from NPR have revealed that prior to the clean-up, a military police officer tried to find out if there was a “heat beam” weapon with the DC National Guard. The crowds were dispersed with smoke and tear gas, as the latter did not have such weapons.
However, if a military police officer was looking for such a “weapon”, he probably saw it and the answer to the question can be found on Website of the Joint Service for Interim Force Capabilities, submitted under the Non-Lethal Weapons Program of the Ministry of Defense.
Called the Active Denial System (ADS), it is “non-lethal.” directed energy weapon capable of firing millimeter waves the size of a human (5 feet – 1.5 m) to a distance of 3 280 feet (1000 m), “according to Frequently asked questions page on the website. Unlike kinetic weapons such as rubber cartridges, which have a risk of injury, ADS is equally effective regardless of size, gender and age, the website said.
Looking at the potential concerns, the FAQ page goes on to explain that the weapon does not use a laser or works like a microwave oven. Instead, at 95 GigaHertz, its frequency is much higher than the microwave (2.45 GHz) and because it is fired for very short periods, it only produces a thermal sensation on the surface of the skin.
The Non-Lethal Weapons Program has spent more than 15 years developing the weapon and has performed more than 13,000 wave exposures to determine that it is still safe and does not cause blindness or cancer. Rather, the system was designed to automatically limit the duration of the fire, the program said.
The system is very legal under US law and there are currently two system configurations for the weapon. The first is a robust mobile system transported by an MVTR Marine truck, while the other is armored, container system, transportable from tactical vehicles, says the site. Both systems have completed in-depth assessments of military utility and can be implemented quickly if requested.
For future developments, the U.S. military is working on solid monolithic microwave integrated circuits to improve the size, weight and cooling of ADS, which will allow integration in various mobile platforms. Gallium nitride (GaN) is more efficient than silicon for integrated circuits, the website said.