Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) officials at Wright-Patterson Air Base have announced the completion of an extensive bioeffects research program for an invisible, counter personnel, directed-energy weapon known as the Active Denial System.

The ADS works by using millimetre wave technology to focus a beam that is capable of rapidly heating a target’s skin, causing severe discomfort and prompting the individual to flee the beam.

The results of the testing showed that the Denial System, or ADS, can be used operationally while maintaining a significant safety margin, thus making the device a landmark nonlethal weapon.

Data also showed that millimetre waves do not promote cancer or cause reproductive problems, and researchers also defined skin and eye exposure thresholds, as well as levels at which effective repel occurs.

The specific millimetre wavelengths occur in the one to 10mm (0.04-0.4 in.) region of the electromagnetic spectrum, which means they are larger than infrared waves but smaller than radio waves or microwaves. Millimetre waves correspond to radio band frequencies of 30-300GHz.

The ADS program marks the first instance wherein a nonlethal weapon was founded on bioeffects research occurring prior to, rather than subsequent to, the weapons development process.

By Daniel Garrun