Feeds

Yes! It's the Reg Top 5 FUTURISTIC GUNS Thanksgiving Roundup!

Backpack raygun, portable artillery piece and MUCH MUCH MORE

Seven Steps to Software Security

The feds' backpack microwave raygun - tactical prototype being tested right now in California

Many readers will be familiar with the Active Denial System, the huge Humvee- or truck-mounted microwave raygun cannon developed for crowd-control purposes by the US military but so far never deployed.

The ADS is supposed to work by emitting a powerful beam of microwaves which penetrates only the outer layers of a victim's skin, causing an intolerable burning sensation but no lasting harm. The idea is that the weapon would avoid US troops having to open fire with lethal bullets when confronted by angry and/or violent mobs overseas, instead scattering their adversaries with a painful but ultimately harmless roaster-raying.

As an enormous truck-mounted weapon the ADS as such is outside our scope in this article: but not everyone knows that in fact a portable, handheld version for use by American cops, feds or other law-enforcement operatives is in development.

Under a programme called "Solid State Active Denial System Demonstration Program" the National Institute of Justice - the Q branch of the US Justice Department - awarded funds in 2004 to build a "high power solid state radio frequency directed energy weapon brassboard. This was essentially a lab demonstration model and does not resemble the envisioned hand-held weapon". The existence of this prototype has been previously reported on here and there.

But then in 2009, the Justice boffinry chiefs assigned a further $574,946 to Raytheon - makers of the original ADS - to take the lab prototype and turn it into a proper handheld raygun. The initiative is described thus:

Utilizing the 2004 brassboard, this 2009 effort will produce an RF weapon with a tactical weight and form factor... Efforts will be made to produce a semi-tactical weapon with ruggedization techniques applied. The supporting system components will be designed into a lightweight backpack that is connected to the weapon by an umbilical style cable cluster.

The resulting weapon will have the look, feel, and RF functionality of a tactical man-portable active denial weapon. The weapon will approach the weight, ruggedization, firing-time and environmental requirements that the eventual fielded weapon will be required to have...

So how's it going? The US government's quarterly report as of September describes progress on the backpack roaster-ray project, being carried out at a Raytheon lab located in Rancho Cucamonga, California:

The complete detailed layout of the weapon and backpack is finished. Integration and testing of the full system is planned for November. At that time, the full solid state array will be integrated with the weapon system and backpack system and tested as a package...

Battery testing is expected to begin in late October. The control software was developed with basic functionality. Detailed coding will be completed after hardware testing...

Raytheon plans to demonstrate the full system in late November or early December.

So we can take it that as this article is written the finishing touches are being put to the US Justice Department's backpack microwave raygun-rifle, and it will shortly be tried out. Handheld rayguns finally exist for real.

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.