I know some of you have been worried. Sure, the American military is planning to roll out a microwave-like pain ray on land. And there's talk about making an airborne model of the so-called "Active Denial System," to control unruly crowds from above. But what if the evil-doers take to the seas? How will we roast them alive, then?Never fear. "The Active Denial System... may soon be used by the Coast Guard for port protection," Defense Tech pal Sharon Weinberger reports for Aviation Week.Developed by the Air Force, Active Denial fires out milimeter waves -- a sort of cousin of microwaves, in the 95 GHz range. The invisible beams penetrate just a 64th of inch beneath the skin. But that's deep enough to trigger the pain receptors inside a person. Which makes folks want to run away, fast. Less-lethal weapon guru Sid Heal calls the ray the "Holy Grail of crowd control."
One of the systems was scheduled for shipment to Eglin AFB, Fla., where it's set to undergo a military utility assessment (MUA) for overwater operations, according to Sue Payton, the deputy undersecretary of Defense for advanced systems and concepts."The Coast Guard is very interested in how this capability would work to stop and redirect a driver of a small boat away from a port or ship," says Payton, whose office has been involved in integrating the technology into a deployable weapon...Since the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole, the Navy has sought ways to ward off small boats that could pose threats to ports or ships. The Coast Guard, similarly, is also exploring threats from small vessels.The testing at Eglin, scheduled for Apr. 11-20, will feature the Active Denial System mounted on a hybrid-electric Humvee and based at a dock, with five Coast Guard boats participating in the assessment. Payton says the testing will look at a variety of factors, such as the beam's impact through glass and windows...Other adaptations of the technology are in the works as well, including a... version [that] will be packaged in a Conex shipping box so that the system can be mounted on larger vehicles, and not just Humvees. "You can go to a bigger capability on trucks," she notes.UPDATE 12:41 PM: You know, if cruise ships are already using sonic blasters to ward off pirates, maybe its not so crazy for the Coasties to have a pain ray gun.