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Peter Lemkin
08-27-2009, 06:08 PM
Active Denial System
From Wikipedia

Humvee with ADS mounted

The Active Denial System (ADS) is a non-lethal, directed-energy weapon developed by the U.S. military.[1] It is a strong millimeter-wave transmitter primarily used for crowd control (the "goodbye effect"[2]). Some ADS systems such as HPEM ADS are also used to disable vehicles.[3] Informally, the weapon is also called pain ray.[4] Raytheon is currently marketing a reduced-range version of this technology.[5] The ADS is currently being considered for deployment in the Iraq War.[citation needed]Contents [hide]
1 Effects
2 Demonstration
3 Controversy
4 Silent Guardian
5 Contracts
6 See also
7 References


The ADS works by directing electromagnetic radiation, specifically, high-frequency microwave radiation at a frequency of 95 GHz[6] (a wavelength of 3.2 mm), toward the subjects. The waves excite water molecules in the epidermis to around 130 °F (55 °C), causing an intensely painful sensation of extreme heat. While not actually burning the skin, the burning sensation is similar to that of an incandescent light bulb being pressed against the skin.[6] The focused beam can be directed at targets at a range of just under half a kilometer, or about 550 yards.[7] The device can penetrate thick clothing, although not walls.[7]

At 95 GHz, the frequency is much higher than the 2.45 GHz of a microwave oven. This frequency was chosen because, due to the stronger absorption of water at those frequencies, they penetrate the skin to a depth of less than 1/64 of an inch (0.4 mm),[8] which is where the nerve endings are located.[citation needed]

A spokesman for the Air Force Research Laboratory described his experience as a test subject for the system:

"For the first millisecond, it just felt like the skin was warming up. Then it got warmer and warmer and you felt like it was on fire.... As soon as you're away from that beam your skin returns to normal and there is no pain."

While the effects can be unpleasant, ADS has undergone extensive testing since its inception more than 12 years ago. Many aspects of the research are classified, making independent evaluation impossible. The beam is designed only to affect an individual for a short moment, due to safety presets and features, but these settings can be overridden by the operator.[9] According to a public release, there have been over 10,700 "shots" by ADS.[10]

The ADS is currently only a vehicle-mounted weapon, though U.S. Marines and police are both working on portable versions.[11]


A fully operational and mounted system was demonstrated on January 24, 2007, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, United States. A Reuters correspondent who volunteered to be shot with the beam during the demonstration described it as "similar to a blast from a very hot oven - too painful to bear without diving for cover."[12]

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Closeup of a "Desk top" millimeter wave projector. This simulates the feeling of the ADS beam in a small dime-sized region.

The effects of this radio frequency on humans have been studied by the military for years, and much, but not all, of the research has been published openly in peer-reviewed journals.[13]

Primary intentions for development of this system are unclear and a matter of a dispute. Some critics[who?] believe the development of such an expensive and complicated system for a single purpose does not seem plausible, as the water cannon has proven to be an effective (though occasionally unsafe) riot control tool.[citation needed]

A recent news article criticized the sheer amount of time it is taking to field this system, citing the potential it had to avert a great deal of pain and suffering in volatile areas around the world.[14]

The early methodology of testing, in which volunteers were asked to remove glasses, contact lenses and metallic objects that could cause hot spots, raised concerns as to whether the device would remain true to its purpose of non-lethal temporary incapacitation if used in the field where safety precautions would not be taken. Proponents of the system claim that these tests were early in the program and part of a thorough and methodical process to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the technology, which has now involved more than 600 volunteer subjects and some 10,200 exposures. As safety was demonstrated in each step of the process, restrictions were removed, and now, according to ADS proponents, there are no restrictions or precautions necessary for volunteers experiencing the effect.[15] Long-term exposure to the beam may cause more serious damage, especially to sensitive tissues, such as those of the eyes. Two people have received second degree burns after exposure to the device.[16][17] (The actual number of injuries, according to Dr. Stephanie Miller of AFRL/RDHR, is a total of eight—the two previously mentioned, and six others, who healed without medical intervention.)[citation needed]

In addition, some claim that subject who have body piercing, jewelry or tattoos are likely to have serious skin damage. Tattooed people can suffer from serious injuries and become seriously ill due to high amounts of toxic waste released from heated/melted tattoo pigment.[citation needed]

Critics cite that, although the stated intent of the ADS is to be a non-lethal device designed to temporarily incapacitate, modifications or incorrect use by the operator could turn the ADS into a more damaging weapon that could violate international conventions on warfare (although at this time, ADS has gone through numerous treaty compliance reviews and legal reviews by AF/JAO, and in all cases complies with every treaty and law).[18] Some even believe it may be possible to focus the ADS to kill or impair people inside vehicles or buildings without breaking windows or leaving any other traces.[citation needed]

Some have focused on the lower threshold of use which may lead those who use them (especially civilian police) to become "trigger-happy", especially in dealing with peaceful protesters. Others have focused on concerns that weapons whose operative principle is that of inflicting pain (though "non-lethal") might be useful for such purposes as torture, as they leave no evidence of use, but undoubtedly have the capacity to inflict horrific pain on a restrained subject.[citation needed] According to Wired Magazine, the Active Denial System has been rejected for fielding in Iraq due to Pentagon fears that it would be regarded as an "instrument of torture ".[19]

A "table top" ADS being tested

Silent Guardian

The defense contractor, Raytheon, has developed a smaller version of the ADS, named the Silent Guardian. This stripped-down model is primarily marketed for use by law enforcement agencies, the military and other security providers. The system is operated and aimed with a joystick and aiming screen. The device can be used for targets up to 550 m away.[6]

Michael Hanlon—who volunteered to experience its effects—described it as "a bit like touching a red-hot wire, but there is no heat, only the sensation of heat." Contrary to Raytheon's claims that the pain ceases instantly upon removal of the ray, Hanlon said that the finger he subjected "was tingling hours later."[20]


On September 22, 2004, Raytheon was granted an FCC license to demonstrate the technology to "law enforcement, military and security organizations."[21]

On October 4, 2004, the United States Department of Defense published the following contract information:

Communications and Power Industries (CPI), Palto Alto [sic], Calif., is being awarded a $6,377,762 costs-reimbursement, cost-plus fixed-price contract. The contractor shall design, build, test, and deliver a two to 2.5 megawatt, high efficiency, continuous wave (CW) 95 gigahertz millimeter wave source system. The contractor shall perform extensive modeling, simulation, experiments, and testing to the maximum capabilities of their facilities (which shall no less than one megawatt peak RF output) that will ascertain the final CW capabilities of the source. The contractor also shall provide input for the requirements for the government's test stand, which will serve as a full power facility in the future. At this time, $900,000 of the funds has been obliged. This work will be complete by January 2009. Negotiations were completed September 2004. The Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, is the contracting activity (FA9451-04-C-0298).[22]

See also
Heat Ray
Directed-energy weapons
Long range acoustic device
Area denial weapons, to prevent an adversary from occupying or traversing an area

^ "Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System (V-MADS)". Global Security. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
^ "Wired News: Say Hello to the Goodbye Weapon". December 5, 2006.
^ HPEM ADS disabling vehicles
^ Ray gun, sci-fi staple, meets reality. Boston Globe, 24 September 2004.
^ "Raytheon: Silent Guardian product brief". 2006.
^ a b c Hambling, David (December 2006), "Techwatch-Forecasting Pain", Popular Mechanics 183, ISSN 0032-4558
^ a b "US unveils 'heat gun'". Daily Telegraph. January 25, 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2007.
^ Active Denial System Factsheet[dead link]. Joint non-lethal weapons program, 2007.
^ "Moody Airmen test new, nonlethal method of repelling enemy - Eric Schloeffel". January 25, 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
^ Active Denial System Factsheet[dead link]. Joint non-lethal weapons program, 2007.
^ [1]
^ "US military unveils heat-ray gun". BBC. January 25, 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2007.
^ "Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program Website - ADS". Jnlwp.com. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
^ Pentagon nixes ray gun weapon in Iraq. By Richard Lardner, Associated Press.
^ Hearn, Kelly (August 19, 2005). "Rumsfeld's Ray Gun". AlterNet. Retrieved 15 August 2006.
^ "Pain Ray Injures Airman | Danger Room from Wired.com". Blog.wired.com. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
^ "PADS - Cold Stress". Labor.state.ak.us. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
^ Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. Source Documentation found in numerous press releases and Media Demo Days.
^ ""No Pain Ray for Iraq"". 2007-08-30. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
^ ""Run away the ray-gun is coming: We test US army's new secret weapon", The Daily Mail".
^ "Active Denial System: A Nonlethal 'Counter-Personnel Energy Weapon'". Why War?.com. September 22, 2004. Retrieved 15 August 2006.
^ "Contracts for October 4, 2004". U.S. Department of Defense. October 4, 2004. Retrieved 15 August 2006.