Taipei Times (Taiwan) (pg. 7), January 26, 2007
U.S. MILITARY UNVEILS RAY GUN
[Rachel's introduction: "This is one of the key technologies for the future," said Marine Colonel Kirk Hymes, director of the non-lethal weapons program that helped develop the new weapon, which is intended to make people feel as if they are going to catch on fire.]
By The Associated Press
Moody Air Force Base, Georgia (Associated Press) -- The military's new weapon is a ray gun that shoots a beam that makes people feel as if they will catch fire.
The technology is supposed to be harmless -- a non-lethal way to get enemies to drop their weapons.
Military officials say it could save the lives of innocent civilians and service members in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
The weapon is not expected to go into production until at least 2010, but all branches of the military have expressed interest in it, officials said.
During the first demonstration of the weapon to the media on Wednesday, airmen fired beams from a large dish antenna mounted atop a Humvee at people pretending to be rioters.
The crew fired beams from more than 450 meters (1/4 mile) away, nearly 17 times the range of existing non-lethal weapons, such as rubber bullets.
While the sudden, 54 degrees Celsius (129 degrees Fahrenheit) heat was not painful, it was intense enough to make participants think their clothes were about to ignite.
"This is one of the key technologies for the future," said Marine Colonel Kirk Hymes, director of the non-lethal weapons program that helped develop the new weapon.
"Non-lethal weapons are important for the escalation of force, especially in the environments our forces are operating in," he added.
The system uses millimeter waves, which can penetrate only a few millimeters inside the skin, just enough to cause discomfort. By comparison, common kitchen microwaves penetrate several centimeters of skin.
The millimeter waves cannot go through walls, but they can penetrate most clothing, officials said. They refused to comment on whether the waves can go through glass.
Two airmen and 10 reporters volunteered to be shot with the beams, which easily penetrated the many layers of winter clothing they were wearing.
The system was developed by the military, but the two devices under evaluation were built by defense contractor Raytheon.
Copyright 1999-2007 The Taipei Times .