The Active Denial System is one of the most interesting non-lethal weapons being developed for the U.S. military.
The Goodbye Effect
The Active Denial System is being developed to help with crowd control. It is a non-lethal, directed energy weapon that transmits an invisible electromagnetic radiation beam that creates a burning sensation on people’s skin. This causes a pain response in people and motivates them to run away or leave an area where the Active Denial System is being used. Military officials have called this the "goodbye effect."
Because of its ability to inflict a burning sensation on people’s skin, the Active Denial System is also commonly called a "heat ray." Defense contractor Raytheon Company has been developing an Active Denial System for the U.S. military. Current models of the system that are undergoing tests transmit an electromagnetic beam of radiation at 95 GHz – much higher than the 2.45 GHz of radiation transmitted by a microwave oven. The Active Denial System can heat up water molecules on a person’s skin to 130 degrees Farhenheit from a distance of 500 yards.
Controversy and Lasting Effects
The Active Denial System is being developed to help militaries, and potentially law enforcement agencies, disperse angry and dangerous crowds of people. The system does not burn people as it only penetrates 1/64 of an inch of skin. However it does cause temporary pain in people. Controversy has erupted over the Active Denial System. Critics claim that the long-term effects of the system are not known, and that it could be used as an instrument of torture.
Still, the Active Denial System has attracted a lot of interest from militaries and law enforcement agencies around the world. Many security experts expect the system will eventually be used alongside other crowd control methods such as tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets. The Active Denial System has been featured on the Discovery Channel program entitled "Future Weapons."
Currently, the Active Denial System is only available as a vehicle-mounted weapon. However, the U.S. Marine Corps and several U.S. police forces are working to develop portable versions of the device. In June 2010, the Active Denial System was deployed with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. However, after the news media reported on the use of the system, it was pulled out of Afghanistan. The U.S. military stated in late 2010 that it is continuing to test the Active Denial System.