After over a decade of development and testing, and several false starts, the U.S. Department of Defense has finally agreed to ship it's microwave Active Denial System (ADS) to Iraq. In the past few months, another $7 million was spent on more testing, to make sure this "non-lethal" device lives up to its name. In testing to date, the ADS has been fired over 2,300 times. The defense bureaucrats are deathly afraid that this non-lethal weapon will kill or maim someone. They know well that the blowback from that would be lethal to the careers of those who signed off on ADS being non-lethal. The current problem is that commanders overseas are making noise about how much they want ADS. Apparently some of that noise has gotten to Congress, and parts of the Pentagon.
The microwave ADS looks like a radar dish. 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. The proposed ROE (Rules of Engagement) for ADS are that anyone who keeps coming after getting hit with microwave is assumed to have evil intent, and will 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.
However, past experience with non-lethal weapons has shown two things. One, there is no such thing as a non-lethal, weapon, only less-lethal ones. Second, electronic non-lethal weapons are scarier than non-electronic ones. Getting your eye put out by a rubber bullet causes much less media commotion than if microwave ADS does it. So, while the bureaucrats scurry for cover, the troops in the combat zone do without. Never doubt the combat power of the media. Fear is a weapon with a long and chilling reach.
The additional testing and tweaking also resulted in various technical tweaks that made the system lighter, more reliable, and able to operate more effectively in different weather conditions.