[Paleopsych] NS: Details of US microwave-weapon tests revealed
checker at panix.com
Fri Jul 22 19:12:56 UTC 2005
Details of US microwave-weapon tests revealed
[Thanks to Laird for this.]
* 22 July 2005
* David Hambling
VOLUNTEERS taking part in tests of the Pentagon's "less-lethal"
microwave weapon were banned from wearing glasses or contact lenses
due to safety fears. The precautions raise concerns about how safe the
Active Denial System (ADS) weapon would be if used in real
The ADS fires a 95-gigahertz microwave beam, which is supposed to heat
skin and to cause pain but no physical damage (New Scientist, 27
October 2001, p 26). Little information about its effects has been
released, but details of tests in 2003 and 2004 were revealed after
Edward Hammond, director of the US Sunshine Project - an organisation
campaigning against the use of biological and non-lethal weapons -
requested them under the Freedom of Information Act.
The tests were carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque,
New Mexico. Two experiments tested pain tolerance levels, while in a
third, a "limited military utility assessment", volunteers played the
part of rioters or intruders and the ADS was used to drive them away.
The experimenters banned glasses and contact lenses to prevent
possible eye damage to the subjects, and in the second and third tests
removed any metallic objects such as coins and keys to stop hot spots
being created on the skin. They also checked the volunteers' clothes
for certain seams, buttons and zips which might also cause hot spots.
The ADS weapon's beam causes pain within 2 to 3 seconds and it becomes
intolerable after less than 5 seconds. People's reflex responses to
the pain is expected to force them to move out of the beam before
their skin can be burnt.
But Neil Davison, co-ordinator of the non-lethal weapons research
project at the University of Bradford in the UK, says controlling the
amount of radiation received may not be that simple. "How do you
ensure that the dose doesn't cross the threshold for permanent
damage?" he asks. "What happens if someone in a crowd is unable, for
whatever reason, to move away from the beam? Does the weapon cut out
to prevent overexposure?"
During the experiments, people playing rioters put up their hands when
hit and were given a 15-second cooling-down period before being
targeted again. One person suffered a burn in a previous test when the
beam was accidentally used on the wrong power setting.
A vehicle-mounted version of ADS called Sheriff could be in service in
Iraq in 2006 according to the Department of Defense, and it is also
being evaluated by the US Department of Energy for use in defending
nuclear facilities. The US marines and police are both working on
portable versions, and the US air force is building a system for
controlling riots from the air.
* Police toy with 'less lethal' weapons
* 30 April 2005
* 'Agent defeat weapons' ready for use
* 21 February 2003
* Microwave beam weapon to disperse crowds
* 29 October 2001
* US Sunshine Project
* Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project
* Kirtland Air Force Base
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