US demos crowd control heat ray

BBC:

The US military has given the first public display of what it says is a revolutionary heat-ray weapon to repel enemies or disperse hostile crowds.

Called the Active Denial System, it projects an invisible high energy beam that produces a sudden burning feeling.

Military officials, who say the gun is harmless, believe it could be used as a non-lethal way of making enemies surrender their weapons.

Officials said there was wide-ranging military interest in the technology.

"This is a breakthrough technology that's going to give our forces a capability they don't now have," defence official Theodore Barna told Reuters news agency.

"We expect the services to add it to their tool kit. And that could happen as early as 2010."

...

A beam was fired from a large rectangular dish mounted on a Humvee vehicle.

The beam has a reach of up to 500 metres (550 yards), much further than existing non-lethal weapons like rubber bullets.

It can penetrate clothes, suddenly heating up the skin of anyone in its path to 50C.

But it penetrates the skin only to a tiny depth - enough to cause discomfort but no lasting harm, according to the military.

A Reuters journalist who volunteered to be shot with the beam described the sensation as similar to a blast from a very hot oven - too painful to bear without diving for cover.

...
It is apparently a memorable experience. It probably has uses beyond crowd control as a area denial weapon that could probably replace anti personnel mines. It is a very interesting device that probably has many more potential applications. While the beam can be projected through clothing , the story does not indicate whether it could project through walls making it impossible for the enemy to remain in hiding, in a search and clear operation.

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