The US Marine Corps is developing a non-lethal weapon that uses electromagnetic energy to heat but not permanently burn human skin.
The weapon, dubbed the Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System, has been designed for non-lethal control of civil disturbances.
Experts in the US are said to have confirmed that it was the first time the military had designed a ‘directed energy weapon’ for use against human targets.
The weapon is said to concentrate energy into a beam that penetrates clothes and quickly heats moisture particles in the outermost layer of flesh without damaging internal organs.
The device reportedly causes no permanent damage to the body or to electronic devices such as pacemakers.
The weapon can reportedly heat a persons skin to approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit in around two seconds and be fired from distances exceeding 750 metres from their target.
‘Unlike the other three branches, the Marines often are in situations where there are lots of innocent bystanders, where they have to control an unruly mob,’ said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a non-profit policy research firm. ‘Tear gas and rubber bullets just have not been effective.’
The weapon’s existence was first made public in the March 5 issue of Marine Corps Times.
According to Rich Garcia, a spokesman for the Air force Research Laboratory, the weapon will be tested on goats and humans at Kirtland Air Force base in the next few months.
Eighty human volunteers, primarily scientists and military personnel associated with the program, will undergo full-body tests, said Garcia.