The research arm of the US Department of Justice is working on two portable non-lethal weapons that inflict pain from a distance using beams of laser light or microwaves, with the intention of putting them into the hands of police to subdue suspects.
The two devices under development by the civilian National Institute of Justice both build on knowledge gained from the Pentagon’s controversial Active Denial System (ADS) - first demonstrated in public last year, which uses a 2-metre beam of short microwaves to heat up the outer layer of a person’s skin and cause pain...
The NIJ’s laser weapon has been dubbed Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response - PHaSR - and resembles a bulky rifle. It was created in 2005 by a US air force agency to temporarily dazzle enemies (see image, right), but the addition of a second, infrared laser makes it able to heat skin too.
The NIJ is testing the PHaSR in various scenarios, which may include prison situations as well as law enforcement.
The NIJ’s portable microwave-based weapon is less developed. Currently a tabletop prototype with a range of less than a metre, a backpack-sized prototype with a range of 15 metres will be ready next year, a spokesperson says.
The truly portable mini-ADS could prove the more useful, as microwaves penetrate clothing better than the infra-red beam, which is most effective on exposed skin. Although the spokesman says: “In LEC [Law Enforcement and Corrections] use there is always a little bit of skin to target...”
A new nonlethal weapon for the Man, and it most certainly will never be abused to parboil suspected perpetrators from a distance.
Certainly the nonlethal capabilities of this weapon must be why the two pictures I've found of it are from the German and the Chinese armies, because militaries are known for their tendency to invest time and money in weapons that won't hurt people.
The crime is, weapons manufacturers aren't just content to develop top secret devices for the United States military. Their lobbyists spend a lot of time and money to convince Congress to allow them to sell them to domestic police agencies and foreign militaries, too. It's what the Free Market is all about.