The Active Denial System (ADS), is a non-lethal, directed-energy weapon developed by the U.S. military, designed for area denial, perimeter security and crowd control. Informally, the weapon is also called the heat ray since it works by heating the surface of targets, such as the skin of targeted human beings.
The Active Denial System, or ADS, is a less-lethal weapon that uses directed energy — millimeter waves — to heat up the top layer of skin. It is specifically designed not to cause any injuries, such as burns. There have been several incidents of blistering, however, and the most serious accident took place last April, when the Air Force revealed that an airman taking part in a test of ADS had been injured severely enough to be treated at a burn center. Few details were made available about the incident.
After failing to be effective in either Iraq or Afghanistan, in part reportedly because it takes so long to power up, and it must be operated from a platform no smaller than a Humvee or other large military vehicle, Pentagon officials mulled the potential for it to be used to deter increasingly violent protests such as hit American cities this summer
And this is why an NPR report this week is causing so much controversy:
A spokesperson for Joint Forces Headquarters Command in Washington, D.C., confirmed to NPR that hours before federal police officers cleared a crowded park near the White House with smoke and tear gas on June 1, a military police staff officer asked if the D.C. National Guard had a kind of “heat ray” weapon that might be deployed against demonstrators in the nation’s capital.
Col. Robert Phillips, a spokesperson for the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, or JFHQ-NCR, said the inquiry was made “as a matter of due diligence and prudent military planning.”
That was during the height of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests which inundated D.C. streets and especially areas around the White House.
It turns out the Joint Forces Headquarters Command was informed that no heat ray weapon was available.
The revelation still outraged civil rights activists who worry federal and state law enforcement will increasingly revert to harsher methods in repelling protests and rioting.