U.S. eyes heat-beaming weapon by 2010�|�US News�|�Reuters.com
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Georgia (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department on Wednesday unveiled what it called a revolutionary heat-beaming weapon that could be used to control mobs or repel foes in conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The so-called Active Denial System causes an intense burning sensation causing people to run for cover, but no lasting harm, officials said.
"This is a breakthrough technology that's going to give our forces a capability they don't now have," Theodore Barna, an assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for advanced systems and concepts, told Reuters. "We expect the services to add it to their tool kit. And that could happen as early as 2010."
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The weapon, mounted on a Humvee, uses a large rectangular dish antenna to direct an invisible beam toward a target. It includes a high-voltage power unit and beam-generating equipment and is effective at more than 500 meters.
Existing counter-personnel systems designed not to kill -- including bean bag munitions and rubber bullets -- work at little more than "rock-throwing distances," said Marine Col. Kirk Hymes, director of the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.
In increasingly complex military operations, the technology provided a much-needed alternative to just going from "shouting to shooting," said Hymes, who is responsible for the weapon's five-year, $60 million advanced development.
Variations of the system could help in peacetime and wartime missions, including crowd control and mob dispersal, checkpoint security and port protection, officials said. It could also help in conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.