Active Denial System: non-lethal, directed-energy weapon

Fascinating report on the Pentagon’s Active Denial System, a/k/a the Pentagon Ray-gun:

Quick excerpt:

What if we told you the Pentagon has a ray gun? And what if we told you it can stop a person in his tracks without killing or even injuring him? Well, it’s true. You can’t see it, you can’t hear it, but as CBS News correspondent David Martin experienced first hand, you can feel it.

Pentagon officials call it a major breakthrough which could change the rules of war and save huge numbers of lives in Iraq. But it’s still not there. That because in the middle of a war, the military just can’t bring itself to trust a weapon that doesn’t kill.

The Pentagon’s Ray Gun
David Martin
CBS 60 Minutes, March 2, 2008

Active Denial System

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. ndk commented on Mar 3

    Billions of dollars of defense research and all we can come up with is microwave radiation that happens to resonate with water?

    I want to see some more creativity.

    P.S. For once, the tinfoil hat *would* work. Pentagon’s gotta be able to outsmart that. I’m not impressed.

  2. Eric commented on Mar 3

    You have to wonder whether this will wind up being used a lot domestically, for instance against political protestors. As for controlling jail populations, I would prefer to see an approach along toxicological/nutritional lines, as in the following link:

    Such an approach might help convicts get out of jail and become functioning members of society. The Active Denial System would only make it cheaper to keep them in jail.

  3. Ken M. commented on Mar 3

    If the military is reluctant to use it, then why not provide a few prototypes to the Border Patrol … see how it works for them.

    Just a thought,

  4. odograph commented on Mar 3

    In some of those shots it seemed like the cameraman should have been getting hit, but he stayed focused.

    I stopped watching, but maybe the unarmed people in a flat field scenario isn’t that common in Iraq, and blending such a crowd-control device into an urban insurgency is not easy.

  5. Leisa commented on Mar 3

    I thought the Active Denial System was what Wall Street and certain politico’s have deployed with regard to speaking about weaknesses in the credit market and economy!

  6. Chief Tomahawk commented on Mar 3

    Perfect for drunken college students intent on rioting…

  7. Andrew Horowitz commented on Mar 3

    Active Denial System

    Isn’t that in place and in use by the FED and our government already? I recall that they have used this weapon in several announcement and reports to disarm the public of their protests against excessive spending, taxes and our involvement in wars.
    How is this different?

    Face it: Denial is the active defense used by politicians, so why not the military. What is next….? The Peaceful Liar Program!


  8. Eric commented on Mar 3

    So are these people going to end up with a tan, or what?

  9. dukeb commented on Mar 3

    They should put them atop postal vehicles to ward off those pesky dogs.

    Ron Paul should have a desktop model to zap B52 Ben whenever he offers disingenuous testimony on Capital Hill.

    My wife should have one to use on me whenever I spend more than 15 minutes reading financial blogs!

  10. tim commented on Mar 3

    Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to zap human flesh is insignificant next to the power of the wet leather jacket.

  11. Ticker_tape_watcher commented on Mar 3

    Apparently, this toy operates in the millimeter frequency range (~95 GHz). It is fairly easy to defeat with tin foil or an emergency reflective blanket from an outdoor sporting goods store.

  12. Robert commented on Mar 3

    From the Pentagon’s perspective is that this is supposed to be a non-lethal system. However, it is highly likely that if used on a large unruly crowd, that deaths will occur either from the system itself on highly susceptible individuals or from the collateral impact from its use (stampeding etc.) or even from deliberate attempts by terrorists to discredit the system.

    At least that is what the periodic updates on this system from the editors at put out. I find this more plausible.

    IMHO, civilians or NATO (Balkins) need to lead the way with the use of this system. That way the press will not be quite so eager to discredit it.

  13. LY commented on Mar 3

    I first heard this system and others months ago at Danger Room and Defense Tech.

    Wonder what happened to the sound wave based system?

  14. Bob A commented on Mar 3

    Just think. If we hadn’t pissed away a trillion dollars in Iraq, we could afford to buy this system.

  15. alnval commented on Mar 3

    I’d sure like to know what the program evaluation people in DOD have said about the potential unintended cultural and social consequences of a weapon that doesn’t kill but humiliates and frustrates citizens instead.

    It also sounds like another advance in weapons technology (think gunpowder or repeating rifle) waiting for its countermeasure.

    Nothing is ever as uncomplicated as it seems. Oh well.

  16. Devin commented on Mar 3

    I’ve been to Iraq. Yes, I’m impressed by the possibilities of this “ray gun.” But lets not forget something–this is not an individual weapon at all–it is meant for crowd control, etc., and is large and impractical for personal use. Further, if I was in charge, I would want to make darn sure that any weapon can do what it needs to do before giving it to my soldiers to defend their lives.

  17. kevin commented on Mar 3

    I fear (and expect) that these will be purchased for crowd control, but will actually be used as an improved torture device — one that causes incredible pain, but leaves no mark.

  18. Portland Refugee commented on Mar 3

    Who remembers the South Park episode where they figure out the exact note to make every crap their pants? Eerily familiar.

  19. Greg0658 commented on Mar 3

    saw the segment last night too

    the footage provided seemed very telephoto focused – was left wondering its wide angle capabilities

    wonder when the signal drops off – what did the squirels feel in the woods – reverse does a policeman get his head blown up walking into the beam?

    on the no kill aspect – I’m a peacenic – but had to wonder when an agressor is deflected alive what the return to the scene will bring next time

  20. Chris D. commented on Mar 3

    The dream of kinder-gentler authoritarians since Napoleon: “What if I could bend them to my will without having to rely on a whiff of grapeshot? I wouldn’t have to feel as guilty for suppressing them.”

  21. Jeremiah commented on Mar 3

    This “thing” is a torture device – pure and simple. It leaves no marks, only invisible scars.

    Without visible marks, victims will have absolutely no legal recourse against this device’s use or injury, which is *really* what the PentBrass are on about: freedom from consequences.

    This will be used to torture.

  22. PFT commented on Mar 3

    Iraq is of course an occupation and not a war, but never mind. What they do not tell you is what happens to the eyeballs of those unlucky enough to get hit in the eye.
    This is the type of weapon developed for occupations and martial law to break up domestic protests. Glad our tax dollars are being put to good use.

  23. RW commented on Mar 3

    It’s a crowd control weapon, can’t see much more there. A step up from water cannon possibly, particularly in areas where water is in short supply and the crowd doesn’t have ready access to shielding materials, but a significant alteration to “the rules of war” – oh please.

  24. keyote commented on Mar 3

    Can you say “mission creep”?

    And ya gotta love the “demonstrators” who were the willing participants in the tv demo. Loved the peacenik slogans–truly, they represented the worst of the freedom-hating terrorists that want to bring amerika to its knees.

    They looked about as authentic as Bolton’s buddies disrupting the Florida recount….

  25. ElectronicElephants commented on Mar 8

    C’mon, crowd control? How ’bout as a replacement for waterboarding? Who would stop them from using it? Raytheon makes a smaller table top verson.

    Great for political protesters, anyone exercising their First Ammendment Rights? In lower powers it makes people very uncomfortable, disoriented.

    Why not use it to distress, disrupt and destroy the lives of anyone who disagrees with us? It’s classified, they couldn’t prove it was being used…

    Look at this administration’s record, ask yourself about protections from abuse.

    If the government has this technology, organized crime has this technology.

  26. Mark Whitney commented on Mar 9

    If the lower powers just result in disorientation and mild discomfort, what’s to stop it being used from a great distance at public appearances of politicians?

    “Well Mr. Senator, what do you have to say to the allegations?” “Well I’d like to state very clearly… um… is it hot in here?”

  27. KudyardRipling commented on Mar 12

    How about using sheet (1m x 2m) of double-walled corrugated plastic board? It’s the kind used for temporary signage. Use expanded polystyrene slabs as frames and handles. Coat the front with aluminium foil. Reflect that energy right back! Stand them side by side for a continuous reflector.

    As for bystanders with pacemakers who are ill-affected by its operation, oh how I cannot wait for what the lawyers have to say when that happens!

  28. KudyardRipling commented on Mar 12

    How about using sheet (1m x 2m) of double-walled corrugated plastic board? It’s the kind used for temporary signage. Use expanded polystyrene slabs as frames and handles. Coat the front with aluminium foil. Reflect that energy right back! Stand them side by side for a continuous reflector.

    As for bystanders with pacemakers who are ill-affected by its operation, oh how I cannot wait for what the lawyers have to say when that happens!

  29. commented on Apr 30

    Are directed energy weapons being tested for through the wall torture involuntarily on innocent American citizens in inner city areas. If so, it will be consistent with past government policies of testing deadly new technologies on vulnerable American citizens.

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