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The U.S. military hesitates to deploy pain beam weapons in the field, but there appears to be an interest from commercial entities in these nonlethal systems; Raytheon says one of its Active denial Systems has been bought by a commercial organization
The U.S. military is not about to deploy its pain ray to the battlefield anytime soon ("U.S. Military Interested in Airborne Non-lethal System," 23 July 2009 HSNW), but commercial entities may have fewer inhibitions. David Hambling writes that it is not clear who bought the system, but the sale is mentioned in a presentation by Raytheon, which built the microwave weapon for the Defense Department.
The Active Denial System works by heating the outer surface of the target's skin using millimeter waves -- short wavelength microwaves. The effect is painful, but generally harmless, and forces the target to get out of the beam. Recently, it's been proposed as a possible defense against pirates (6 November 2008 HSNW); last month, Raytheon gave a presentation on Active Denial at a NATO workshop on anti-pirate equipment and technologies. This presentation mentions an "Impending Direct Commercial Sale" of a commercial version of the Active Denial system known as Silent Guardian. Hambling writes that this is Active Denial in a box, a 10,000-pound containerized system that can be mounted on a ship, a truck, or a fixed installation. It has an effective range of about 250 meters. The beam has a power of around 30 kilowatts. The anti-pirate presentation shows how a set-up with two antennas could achieve almost 360-degree coverage for a small container ship.
In the longer run, Raytheon believe that Active Denial might have all sorts of applications in law enforcement, prisons, and protecting installations -- not to mention chasing geese away from airports. One day a domestic version might even repel burglars.