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US Justice Dept builds microwave heat-ray 'rifle'

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Reports are emerging that the US Justice Department is working on a hand-held version of existing microwave cannons intended for riot or crowd control. The portable raygun could also have applications as a scanner or detector system, apart from being a weapon; and a working prototype has already been built.

Raytheon, the American weaponry globocorp which makes the Silent Guardian crowd-griller cannon, has been showing off its microwave weaponry plans to reporters at the AUSA expo in Washington this week. According to separate articles at Military.com and Aviation Week, there are many new plans for the technology.

It appears that both the US Marines and Army want truck-mounted units of varying size, allowing them to play wide-angle heat beams over recalcitrant crowds and so perhaps disperse them without having to resort to mass truncheonings or even more aggressive means. The technology isn't regarded as being able to kill; rather it inflicts intense pain by heating up water in the outer skin layers.

According to Colin Clark, Military.com scribe:

Reporters can be really dumb. There I was in front of Raytheon’s booth ... I hit the button. My lower thoracic area got very hot, very fast. So I waited for the machine to recycle and hit the button again. This time the pain was more intense — I wasn’t screaming or anything — and my skin felt like it was about to catch fire.

More interestingly/upsettingly still, both reports indicate that the National Institute of Justice is looking into a "rifle-sized", shorter ranged heat-ray weapon for use by US cops or feds. The NIJ is the R&D arm of the US Justice Department. Looking at the NIJ website, it appears that in fact a "small working prototype ... that law enforcement and correction officers can carry" has already been built.

Both the truck-mounted and handheld heat-rayguns use millimetre wavelengths, which are also used by high-definition radars and by certain kinds of security scanners.

The millimetre-wave scan gear used at airports doesn't emit any microwaves itself - it makes an image of the body's natural emissions. The only controversy attaching to this passive application is that the resulting picture is similar to seeing the given person naked.

There's some suggestion that the NIJ's planned microwave rifle could also function as a sensor or detector system at longer ranges, as well as a pain beam inside say 30 feet. This would seem to indicate some kind or receiver and screen or readout, alongside the emitter.

Plods or soldiers could then use their amazing microwave rifle in one of three modes: millimetre wave active man-tracker radar, heat-&-pain energy weapon, or passive through-clothes nudie perv scanner.

Now that's a versatile piece of equipment.

The Av Week and Military.com reports are here and here. ®

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