The US military currently fields a number of non-lethal weapons systems to disperse hostile crowds without resorting to deadly force, including beanbag rounds and rubber bullets.
The problem with such weapons? Accidents can easily occur, leading to serious injuries. Plus, non-lethal rounds are much less effective at greater distances.
Enter the Active Denial System (ADS), a new non-lethal weapon which boasts a range of up to 1000m and is capable of projecting a beam of millimeter waves using a 95-gigahertz frequency.
"The system is state of the art technology, it’s not widely known," explained Marine Col. Tracy Tafolla, Director of the US DoD Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.
"[There are] a lot of perceptions and misconceptions about what the system is and what it isn’t. It is a millimeter wave system, it is not a microwave."
To be sure, although ADS makes its targets feel as if their skin is burning, no actual damage is done.
Tafolla also emphasized that ADS already passed a full legal review and is compliant with all international legal obligations. The non-lethal weapon is available and ready for deployment now but as yet, there are no plans to field the new system.
"It could be used across the military spectrum of operations, perimeter security, crowd control, entry control points. You name it. I think our forces will figure out the many different applications that it would have," she added.