Feeds

Pentagon inks deal on portable milli-wave raygun tech

Heatray/perv-scan tech in cell towers next

Remote control for virtualized desktops

American weaponry globocorp Raytheon has been awarded a contract by the US military to improve the state of the art in microwave blasters for ground troops, offering "lighter-weight, non-lethal" rayguns as an alternative to deadly force.

The company announced a deal with the Pentagon's Joint Non Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) to provide "a gallium nitride solid-state source for use in non-lethal weapons" this week.

The US forces already have microwave weapons, of course - most famously the crowd-frying Active Denial System (ADS), intended to play a beam of millimetre-wave goodness across riotous mobs and so forth. This is supposed to heat up the outer layer of the targets' skin, causing intense pain but no lasting harm.

The idea is that this is actually one of the nicer things that heavily outnumbered US troops might do to testy mobs if reasoning with them didn't work. A crowd-scattering dose of microwaves would be painful, but less so than a lengthy burst from a machine gun or a close encounter with a tank - so goes the thinking. It's even thought by proponents of the ADS that it might be a kindlier option than everyday beanbag projectiles, rubber or plastic bullets, taser electro-cattleprod guns, riot gas, metal truncheons etc.

Nonetheless it remains unclear whether millimetre-wave weapons will ever see military service. If they do, however, the rayguns are a trifle cumbersome at present. The ADS in its smallest form has to be mounted on a Humvee, and with the cooling equipment it would require to function somewhere like Iraq it's a lorry-load of gear.

Thus the Pentagon push for something a bit more lightweight. That's where Raytheon come in with their new gallium-nitride semiconductor tech, which they think will be a lot lighter-weight for a given output than present day gallium-arsenide kit. Raytheon spokesmen have previously said that they could deliver tenfold power for a given amount of semiconductors.

This could see the long-heralded, semi-mythical handheld microwave blaster become a reality, perhaps. A prototype "rifle sized" man portable raygun is known to exist. This would possibly offer pain-blaster settings and potentially be able to act as a handheld nudie through-clothes millimetre wave scanner - or at least a person-tracking radar - as well. However this has not seen field service, perhaps due to issues of power vs weight.

Raytheon's gallium-nitride tech could help out here, potentially putting a multifunction pain-blaster/electropulse electronic weapon/perv scanner/mantracker radar device in the hands of US grunts on the ground.

The weapons firm is keen to develop less aggressive applications too, of course. The pain-ray gear has already been tried out in the form of enormous patio-heater towers for warming up fruits in California, for instance. It is intended to see service in radars and communications too.

At the risk of triggering an outbreak of mass hysteria among the tinfoilclad Wi-Fi-fearing community, we can also point out that Raytheon intend this same gallium nitride pain-raygun technology for use in cell towers.

"We want to get it inserted in the base stations of cell towers very quickly," a corporate tech partner exec told the Boston Globe in 2005.

Boringly though, that's because cellphones have always used these frequencies. Much as the prospect of cell towers able to see through your clothes or inflict a sizzling heat-beam enforcement whiplash from afar would be professionally satisfying news, we reluctantly offer the assessment that there's no need for the tinfoil undergarments just yet. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?