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[] Janes: US to field-test energy weapon -

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US to field-test energy weapon

The US Department of Defense is considering whether to begin field-testing a millimetre-wave
electromagnetic energy weapon designed to help US soldiers protect themselves and drive away
adversaries when using lethal force is inappropriate. US officials say they plan to test a recently
declassified weapon known as the Vehicle-Mounted Active Denial System (VMADS). The weapon has
been developed at a cost of US$40 million over a 10-year period, under which extensive laboratory tests
were conducted using animals and human volunteers. The mobile energy weapon can project a narrow
beam toward individuals or small groups, and works by rapidly heating the top layers of skin, causing
pain. The Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Department's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons
Directorate are responsible for the program. Although the range of the weapon is classified, program
director Colonel George Fenton said he wants a system that can project a beam beyond the range of
small-arms fire, which he described as about 750m. The beam's sensation quickly goes away after
exposure, leaving no long-term effects, officials involved in the project said. Furthermore, it is eye-safe,
they noted. The beam is effective on bare skin, but can also penetrate layers of clothing, Col Fenton said.
Kirk Hackett, program manager for "Active Denial" Technology at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico,
said the lab is conducting technology development work on a portable variant, but said it will be several
years before scientists know if such a variant can generate enough power to project the beam to a
sufficient range. Before the project can enter the Defense Department acquisition cycle, a more
comprehensive legal review would be required. (Janes)

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