Active Denial System mounted on a Humvee
November 14, 2014
Are You In Denial?
My recent novel White House Storm features Zumwalt-class destroyers being controlled remotely by a hacker. The book is a
little ahead of its time because our three
Zumwalt destroyers are not yet operational, but another exotic weapon I depict in the book, an Active Denial System,
has been available for ten years. Sometimes it is called a heat ray because it works by heating the skin with an
electromagnetic beam at 95 GHz. By comparison a microwave oven works at 2.45 GHz. ADS penetrates 1/64' into the skin,
while a microwave penetrates 2/3".
How does it work? If you are the target, the operator points the device at you and triggers the device continuously. You feel
like you've been blasted with tremendous heat, as if you had opened the door to an unbearably hot oven. You run away without
consciously deciding to run away.
As soon as you are out of range the effect
goes away. Test subjects have demonstrated that most people react to it within three seconds, and no one lasts longer than five, including
hardened military personnel used for testing.
Although intentionally designed as a non-lethal weapon, ADS will be quite controversial if ever deployed into civilian settings, which
is no longer a minor concern. Incidents in Ferguson, Missouri and other police departments have revealed that the Pentagon has
been unloading military hardware to local police departments around the country. If ADS was ever deployed by say, Ferguson police to
break up demonstrations, it would be a disaster. In 2004 Raytheon was licensed by the FCC to demonstrate the technology to
Lurking just below the surface of this story is the fact that the military has not yet used it in combat or near-combat situations. It
was deployed once, in Afghanistan in 2010, but was removed from service within two months, never having been used. No one is saying
why it has not been used, leading military critics to suspect there are dangers in the use of the device that are not publickly
Another possibility is that these denial systems are easy to deny. Water, mist, and other conditions might reduce
its effectiveness enough to make it useless.
And no, this is not the same weapon used in the campus fight scene in The Incredible Hulk.
Two sonic cannons prepare to attack the Hulk. Sonic cannons have been favored weapons in Marvel comics for decades. While early R&D
is now taking place, these weapons still do not exist.