Feeds

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

Backpack raygun, portable artillery piece and MUCH MUCH MORE

High performance access to file storage

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.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.