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Weapons: Perfect Weapon Is Perfectly Useless
   Next Article → KOREA: A Great Fear And Hunger Is Upon The Land
July 30, 2010: U.S. efforts to deploy it's microwave Active Denial System (which transmits a searchlight sized beam of energy when makes people downrange feel like their skin is on fire) continues to be delayed. Earlier this year, an ADS system was sent to Afghanistan. Now it is being sent back to the United States without being used. This is nothing new. The microwave powered ADS, a non-lethal weapon that looks like a radar dish, languishes in politically correct limbo. The ADS "radar dish" projects a "burn ray" that is about four feet in diameter. It is effective in fog, smoke and rain. When pointed at people and turned on, it creates a burning sensation on the skin of its victims, causing them to want to leave the area, or at least greatly distracts them. The microwave weapon has a range of about 500 meters. ADS is carried on a hummer or Stryker, along with a machine-gun and other non-lethal weapons (like LRAD). The proposed ROE (Rules of Engagement) for ADS were that anyone who kept coming after getting hit with microwave was assumed to have evil intent, and could be killed. The microwave is believed to be particularly useful for terrorists who hide in crowds of women and children, using the human shields to get close enough to make an attack. This has been encountered in Somalia and Iraq. But not often enough in Afghanistan to give the one ADS there a chance to be used in action (as opposed to tests) for the first time. But the real reason for not using ADS is commanders unwilling to take the media heat for employing a "death ray" on "innocent civilians."

Deployment of ADS has already been delayed for years because of concerns about how non-lethal it really is. ADS has been fired, in tests, over 2,500 times. Many of these firings were against human volunteers, and the device performed as predicted, without any permanent damage. But generations of exposure to lurid science fiction descriptions of "death rays" has made the defense bureaucrats anxious over the negative public relations potential if something like ADS was actually used. From a publicity perspective, using more lethal "non-lethal-weapons" is preferable to deploying something safer, but that could be described, however incorrectly, as a "death ray." In any event, it appears that the cheaper, smaller, gentler and more flexible LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device, a "sound cannon") has taken ADS's place in the American arsenal. At least for now. Although it appears likely that systems like DSLA (a variant of LRAD that includes bright lights as well) will see combat before ADS ever does.

Last year, LRAD was quietly deployed to Iraq, where it was used with success. Now the U.S. Department of Defense is developing a long range (up to 5 kilometers, compared to 300 meters) version of LRAD called DSLA (Distributed Sound and Light Array). DSLA also uses bright lights, delivered by a laser that won't make you permanently blind. DSLA also uses a vidcam with zoom capability, so the operator can see distant targets for the system. The sound capabilities of DSLA diminish at longer ranges.

LRAD is basically a focused beam of sound, as is the longer range sound in DSLA. Originally, LRAD was designed to emit a very loud sound. Anyone whose head was touched by this beam, heard a painfully loud sound. Anyone standing next to them heard nothing. But most of those hit by the beam promptly fled, or fell to the ground in pain. Permanent hearing loss is possible if the beam is kept on a person for several seconds, but given the effect the sound usually has on people (they move, quickly), it is unlikely to happen. LRAD works. U.S. troops have also noted that a beam of bright light also disorients people. So it was decided to create a longer range LRAD that could also, if the user felt some extra mojo was needed, apply bright lights (using the eye-safe laser). You aim LRAD or DSLA like a machine-gun.

LRAD has proved quite useful. It was used off Somalia, by a cruise ship, to repel pirates. Another merchant ship, however, found that LRAD annoyed the pirates, who kept coming. This is why it's believed that the addition of lights, and longer range sound, would provide a device that would be difficult to overcome. While LRAD weighs 45 pounds, DSLA weighs over a hundred pounds. But, then, it does so much more.

Some U.S. Navy warships also carry LRAD, but not just to repel attacking suicide bombers, or whatever. No, the system was sold to the navy for a much gentler application. LRAD can also broadcast speech for up to 300 meters. The navy used LRAD to warn ships to get out of the way. This was needed in places like the crowded coastal waters of the northern Persian Gulf, where the navy patrols. Many small fishing and cargo boats ply these waters, and it's often hard to get the attention of the crews. With LRAD, you just aim it at a member of the crew, and have an interpreter "speak" to the sailor. It was noted that the guy on the receiving end was sometimes terrified, even after he realized it was that large American destroyer that was talking to him. This apparently gave the army guys some ideas, for there were rumors among Iraqis of a devilish American weapon that makes people believe you are hearing voices in your head.

This made more sense when, several years ago, an American advertising firm used an LRAD unit to support a media campaign for a new TV show. LRAD was pointed at a sidewalk in Manhattan, below the billboard featuring the new show. LRAD broadcast a female voice providing teaser lines from the show. The effect was startling, and a bit scary for many who passed through the LRAD beam. It appears that some of the troops in Iraq used "spoken" (as opposed to "screeching") LRAD to mess with enemy fighters. Islamic terrorists tend to be superstitious and, of course, very religious. LRAD can put the "word of God" into their heads. If God, in the form of a voice that only you can hear, tells you to surrender, or run away, what are you gonna do?

 DSLA, with its longer range, makes it particularly popular for ships, or aircraft. Putting DSLA on a helicopter, with a stabilized mount (to adjust for any herky jerky movement of the chopper) allows for all sorts of useful mischief. Same deal on the ground, where the DSLA can cover a wider area, and stay out of range of hostile gunfire as well. DSLA is intended to be a good crowd control device, delivering painful noise and blinding lights in a way that will scatter an angry mob.

 

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Paul_In_Houston       8/1/2010 12:27:41 PM
But the real reason for not using ADS is commanders unwilling to take the media heat for employing a "death ray" on "innocent civilians."
 
The ultimate enemy is lawyers.
Even Richard III had a comment on that, although no more able to implement it than we.
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Paul_In_Houston    OOPS!!!   8/1/2010 12:33:04 PM
That was Henry VI.  My bad. :(
(But Richard seemed to think that way. :-)
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trenchsol       8/2/2010 9:44:55 AM
I think that microwave weapon could project trough the walls.... Could it be used to flush bad guys hiding behind cover, so they could get shot in old fashioned way afterwards ?
 
DG

 
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smitty237       8/2/2010 12:06:48 PM
It may sound silly for commanders in the field to not use a viable weapons system out of fears of media scrutiny, but I would point out that in the United States the use of water cannons for riot control have been pretty much forbidden for over forty years.  Water cannons are an effective riot control weapon, but its use against largely peaceful civil rights protesters in the South in the 1960s has stigmatized the practice.  Water cannons are still used in Europe and elsewhere, but the United States won't even use water cannons in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, much less the cities of the United States. 
 
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WarNerd       8/2/2010 2:15:59 PM

I think that microwave weapon could project trough the walls.... Could it be used to flush bad guys hiding behind cover, so they could get shot in old fashioned way afterwards ?

No such luck.  If it could it would cause internal injuries.
 
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WarNerd       8/2/2010 2:19:10 PM

It may sound silly for commanders in the field to not use a viable weapons system out of fears of media scrutiny, but I would point out that in the United States the use of water cannons for riot control have been pretty much forbidden for over forty years.  Water cannons are an effective riot control weapon, but its use against largely peaceful civil rights protesters in the South in the 1960s has stigmatized the practice.  Water cannons are still used in Europe and elsewhere, but the United States won't even use water cannons in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, much less the cities of the United States. 


You are correct, and what's worse is that water cannons are much safer for the targets than the 'baton rounds' and 'rubber bullets' that are used instead.
 
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trenchsol       8/2/2010 5:01:34 PM




I think that microwave weapon could project trough the walls.... Could it be used to flush bad guys hiding behind cover, so they could get shot in old fashioned way afterwards ?




No such luck.  If it could it would cause internal injuries.

That might be a problem in hostage situation. Otherwise, baked or shot, who cares ?
 
DG

 
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Jeff_F_F       9/29/2010 10:54:16 PM
The description attributed to LRAD in this article is describing hypersound. LRAD does not use hypersound. It is a conventional though largely directional speaker array that operates exactly like any other speaker system. There is no beam of sound that can only be heard by persons within the beam.
 
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AThousandYoung       9/30/2010 10:01:03 PM
No such luck.  If it could it would cause internal injuries.
Not necessarily.  Microwaves react with water in your skin.  If the wall has no water the microwaves could pass through without overpenetrating the body.  Maybe.  Not sure.
 
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gf0012-aust       10/1/2010 12:34:07 AM

It is a conventional though largely directional speaker array that operates exactly like any other speaker system. There is no beam of sound that can only be heard by persons within the beam.
It is a bit more than that though.  eg my daughter had to be accredited to use it when she was employed in maritime security for a major shipping company.  There are some safety critical issues that are attendant if you don't use it properly...
from her experience, it certainly had benefit, although there are some "workarounds"

 
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