Ray guns and heat rays are often thought of as sci-fi but both are very real …


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Earlier in June this year in the US military police were deployed to clear a crowd of protestors near The White House, and since then investigations by NPR have revealed that prior to the clear out, one of the military police officers asked if a “Heat Ray” weapon was available from the D.C. National Guard (DCNG). In the end the crowds were dispersed with smoke and tear gas because DCNG didn’t have one.


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However, the fact that the officer asked for a heat ray weapon in the first place – which many people still think of as sci-fi, like ray guns  which exist now – got investigative journalists wondering if one existed and oddly it does as detailed on the Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office website, filed under the Department of Defense’s Non-Lethal Weapons Program.

Called the Active Denial System (ADS), it is a “Non-lethal directed energy weapon capable of shooting a man sized (5 ft – 1.5 m) beam of millimeter waves up to a distance of 3,280 feet (1,000 m),” according to a FAQ page on the website.

Unlike kinetic weapons such as rubber rounds that possess a risk of injury, the ADS “is uniformly effective regardless of size, gender, and age,” the website claims.


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Addressing potential concerns, the FAQ page goes on to clarify that the weapon does not use a laser or work as a microwave oven. Instead, at 95 GigaHertz, its frequency is much higher than a microwave (2.45 GHz) and since it is fired for very short durations, it produces only a heat sensation on the skins surface.

The Non-Lethal Weapons Program has spent over 15 years developing the weapon and has conducted over 13,000 exposures of the waves to determine that it is still safe and does not cause blindness or cancer. Rather the system is developed to automatically limit the fire duration, the program claims.

The system is very much legal as per the laws in the US and currently, and it comes in two configurations. The first is a robust mobile system transported by Marine Corps MVTR truck while another is an armored, containerized system transportable by tactical vehicles, the website said. Both systems have completed thorough military utility assessments and can be deployed quickly if a request is received.


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For future developments, the US Army is working on solid state monolithic microwave integrated circuits to improve the size, weight, and cooling on the ADS that will allow integration into various mobile platforms. Gallium nitride (GaN) is more efficient than silicon for integrated circuits, the website stated further.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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