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Non-lethal weapons capability demonstrated on MacDill Air Force Base

By Senior Airman Danielle Quilla | 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs | February 03, 2016

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Department of Defense (DoD) Non-Lethal Weapons Program has developed technology capable of supporting the operational needs of the U.S. Armed Forces without harming non-combatants and limiting collateral damage.

A two-day demonstration of the Active Denial System (ADS) was held on Jan. 27 – 28 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to educate members of Team MacDill about the technology and give volunteers a firsthand experience.

“We do these demonstrations all the time to educate and demonstrate the capability of the non-lethal technology,” said Brian Long, a DoD active-denial technology program manager. “It represents a leap forward in non-lethal capability, in that; it provides a longer range versus the current items in inventory.”

Having a longer range and reversible effects are key features of the ADS, which gives U.S. Service members an alternative to using deadly force. The technology is intended to be used during crowd control, checkpoint and perimeter security and as protection during convoys and patrols.

Before the demonstration, the ADS was positioned 500 meters away from where the volunteers would be standing; however, its range can reach up to 1,000 meters.

Once ready, each volunteer stood in a designated area marked with cones and held two thumbs up. Within seconds, an intolerable heating sensation of about 120 degrees covered the individual’s body, making them instinctively close their eyes and move away from the area.

As soon as the volunteers moved out of the beam their skin instantly returned to a normal temperature.

Since the ADS projects a beam of millimeter waves at a frequency of 95 gigahertz, it only penetrates the skin at a depth of about 1/64th of an inch, which is equivalent to three sheets of paper.

More than 15 years of research and more than 13,000 exposures from volunteers participating in static demonstrations and realistic operational assessments have proven the effectiveness of the non-lethal weapon and its minimal risk of injury.

In addition, detailed testing has determined that the beam does not cause cancer.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jose Grimaldo is a non-lethal team member of the Capabilities and Requirements Division with the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. This demonstration was his first time experiencing the heating sensation since being assigned to the unit in 2015, and he compared the sensation to the feeling of heat coming from an oven.

“I can see this as something going into the future,” Grimaldo said. “It would be very beneficial if the technology could be condensed to be used out there in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program is continuing to invest in advancing active-denial technology for users who are interested in a smaller and more mobile configuration for urban environments.

The ADS is just one non-lethal weapon developed by the DoD Non-Lethal Weapons Program designed to save lives, protect the innocent, and limit collateral damage while effectively repelling adversaries.

For more information about ADS and other non-lethal weapons, visit the DoD Non-Lethal Weapons Program website at http://jnlwp.defense.gov/.