The military is always developing new weapons systems for modern battlefields. One of the most recent systems under development is called the Active Denial System. This futuristic invention uses short-wave radiation to rapidly heat the surface of the skin, causing an intense sensation of burning. The weapon system will be used to help disperse crowds and keep people away in a non-lethal fashion.
According to the Department of Defense, “ADS uses millimeter wave technology to cause a brief, but intense, heating sensation. The system’s human effects safety is supported by years of peer-reviewed scientific studies and independent reviews.”
Instead of protecting, guarding, and covering certain areas with live rounds, this technology might be able to disperse people and create a barrier or a buffer in a non-lethal manner. The military claims this type of technology can save the lives of military personnel and civilians alike by increasing the protective powers of military police and guard posts.
What Does It Feel Like?
The Active Denial System creates a burning sensation on the skin. However, due to the physics, the sensation does not cause any lasting injuries. The burning sensation only applies to the outer layer of skin and does not damage deeper tissue.
You can see a video about how the ADS feels and the results of live testing in the link below.
How Will ADS Be Used?
According to the DoD, ADS will have a variety of different uses. As the technology develops, there could be a myriad of uses, from crowd control to convoy protection.
The military envisions the following uses for their Active Denial System.
- Crowd control
- Crowd dispersal
- Convoy and patrol protection
- Checkpoint security
- Perimeter security
- Area denial
- Port protection
Imagine the scene from the Kabul airport during the US pullout from Afghanistan. The scenes were total chaos, with civilians, US military personnel, Afghan soldiers, and police running freely through protected areas. There were gunshots fired, and multiple people were killed and wounded. Instead of using live ammunition in a touchy situation like this, Active Denial Systems would be able to disperse and keep people away from sensitive areas.
ADS Development and Deployment
ADS is being developed by multiple nations, including the United States and China. ADS has also been named as a potential culprit of Havana Syndrome, which has been affecting foreign officers in Cuba. Many organizations see the benefit of having a portable and effective non-lethal crowd control system.
ADS is being developed as a portable system that can be carried by individuals, a mounted system that can be put onto large trucks or military vehicles, and an installed system that can be put onto the top of a checkpoint or guard post.
As of now, ADS has not been rolled out in a large-scale way. It is still in the testing and development phase, but early results have been promising, and more uses are being discovered for the new technology.
ADS could feature heavily in the future of policing and warfare. The invisible radio waves can penetrate clothing and small barriers. Large crowds could easily be dispersed by specialty systems without the need for tear gas or rubber bullets. It could even be used on the battlefield to try and clear trenches or keep people away from sensitive military convoys without needing to use lethal ammunition or indiscriminate bombing.
Active Denial Systems are one example of futuristic weapons being developed for 21st-century warfare and the unique conflicts that modern war is starting to present to military planners.