The Military's New "Anti-Insurrgency" Weapon...

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The Military's New "Anti-Insurrgency" Weapon...

Postby kg5uc » Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:50 pm

I've seen and read news reports about this new "weapon:"

<a href="http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C01%5C26%5Cstory_26-1-2007_pg7_11">US demonstrates non-lethal ray guns</a>

As a Ham radio operator and a former military Ground Radio technician, I found part of that story quite interesting:

<i>"The system uses electromagnetic millimetre waves, which can penetrate only 1/64 of an inch of skin, just enough to cause discomfort. By comparison, microwaves used in the common kitchen appliance penetrate several inches of flesh. The millimetre waves cannot go through walls, but they can penetrate most clothing, officials said."</i> (From the article)

Having some knowledge of radio waves, their propagation, and their effect on living and non-living matter, I find this weapon extremely interesting and would just <i>love</i> to get my hands on the tech manual for it, but assuming the government would not just send me the papers on the technical aspects of this (presumably secret) weapon system, all I can do is speculate:

Having never heard the term, <i>electromagnetic millimetre waves</i> being used to describe a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, I referred to a chart of <a href="http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/allochrt.pdf">The United States Frequency Allocations</a> Radio Spectrum Chart from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration website. The small chart at the bottom, which shows the entire electromagnetic spectrum as we know it, is the one that I will be concentrating on.

Image

As we can see from the above chart, the radio frequency spectrum "officially" ends at around the 300 GHz range, and above that is considered the "light wave" portion of the spectrum, starting with Infrared. The Amateur radio bands (usually) above the 2 meter bands are referred to as the "centimeter" bands, such as 123 cm (sometimes called the 1 1/4 meter band), 70 cm (around 440 mhz), and so on. From just above the 300 GHZ boundary to just below it, I would have to assume, would be the "millimeter" range. On the chart just below the "Infrared" spectrum is the word "Sub-Millimeter," so I would assume this weapon works somewhere between the infrared range and the upper EHF radio frequency spectrum, possibly in the lower infrared range.

The effect that radio waves has on organic matter is somewhat related to the frequency, but is mostly related to the distance the matter is from the transmitting radiator. The further the matter is from the radiator, the power required for the same effect increases logarithmically. I would not be surprised to learn that 500 yards is about the maximum effective range of the weapon. Much further than that would likely require an array of the weapons connected to a stationary power supply, like a power plant.

I doubt that this weapon would limit itself to "1/64th inch of skin" when the subject is located in close proximity to the radiator. The main reason that microwave energy penetrates several inches of flesh or organic material in a microwave oven is that the flesh or material is placed in an insulated box with the output of the Klystron tube radiated directly at it, with the power of the output at several hundred watts. Increase the distance between the material and the klystron, and the material will not be heated as efficiently, even focusing the energy in a narrow beam, unless the power output of the klystron is increased logarithmically with respect to the distance.

This is much the same case with lower frequency radio waves or with infrared radiation. I have an infrared heating pad that, while it will penetrate thin clothing, will not do much of anything if separated from the skin by much more than that. But in close proximity to the skin it penetrates the skin and into the muscles and joints, heating them and providing relief from pain. Likely, if the weapon's radiator was too close to the subject and sufficiently focused <i>and</i> of sufficient energy, it could penetrate well beyond the 1/64th inch "limit" and do real damage to internal organs.

I also would wonder what the effect of this radiation would be on the eyes, which are much more delicate than the skin. Might this radiation, under certain circumstances cause damage to the eyes and possibly blindness? I would think that, at close range, the pain of such torture would be excruciating, and used indiscriminately by non-technical people at close range would make the danger of damage to the eyes and even internal organs quite real.

This device could easily be used as an instrument of torture (oh, I'm sorry...I should have said "interrogation device."). Such a device, used in close proximity to the "detainee" and with the ability to focus it on certain areas of the body, and "not doing lasting damage" in the process would be an ideal write in to the "interrogation procedures," <i>"used only by trained interrogators under certain circumstances."</i> Of course, let's not mention the possibility of its use by untrained individuals, or those trained individuals who are quite willing to go beyond the limits.

Of course, the above conjecture is based on my general knowledge of the effect of radio waves on organic material, which includes humans, and the knowledge I needed to have concerns Amateur Radio frequency bands, the high power transmissions on which can adversely affect a living being in close proximity. Of course, there is <i>some</i> relationship to the frequency of the transmissions and the level of deleterious effects, but most of the danger is related to the power of the transmission and proximity to the radiator. Some knowledge of these effects are required on the tests one has to take for an Amateur Radio license, and there has been much conjecture on other radiating sources, such as living in close proximity to high voltage transmission lines and extended cell phone usage with the antenna in close proximity to the head.

<i>"They refused to comment on whether the waves could go through glass."</i> (from the article)

Not surprising. It would seem to me that, since this a radio wave device, a thin layer of Aluminum, or aluminized clothing, would possibly insulate a person from the effects, and possibly aluminized glass or reflecting "mirrored" sunglasses would also insulate one from the effects.

My analysis is that this weapon, while not particularly effective against a well prepared army or group of properly equipped terrorists, would likely work against rioting civilians or armed insurgents not equipped with defensive equipment against it. Or, as I mentioned above, its use in torture of captives, where the possibility exists that it could do great harm.
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Postby ohlia » Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:51 pm

Is there any chance of this weapon electrocuting someone?

Suppose someone is in a very 'staticky' environment will anything out of the ordinary unexpectedly happen if the rays of this device are focused on them?
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Postby Skinjob » Sat Jan 27, 2007 9:15 pm

In some cases high radiation from a high frequency source is limited due to the frequency itself. For instance X band, 8500 to 9600 mhz, will arc-over in the wave guide if the power is very great. That's because the physical size of the wave guide diminishes as the frequency increases proportional to wave length. The effect is like narrowing the gap on a spark plug.

In low frequency L band, the wave guide is many time larger than X band, and the amount of power required to cause arc-over is much greater. But, with that increased power comes increased bulk and weight of the hardware.

Now, if they design that weapon device using something other than a Klystron or a Magnetron to transmit energy, then all bets are off. Or if they are not using conventional wave guide, and have some advanced technology, then it's hard to say how much power they can pump out.

I could detect some political influence in your post. Making rules for us to fight the enemy when the enemy has no rules is a recipe for defeat. We are better served looking for ways to win the fight. Those making rules for us don't have anything invested in this fight. Anything we can do to defeat the enemy is praiseworthy, not criminal. Playing by one-sided rules, administered by idiots, defeated us in both Korea and Vietnam. The loss in Korea has left us in grave danger from Korea's proliferation of weapons in the world. But, I suppose it all depends on where one's loyalty rests.
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Postby Bedford » Sun Jan 28, 2007 4:05 am

The Soviet Union once experimented with a weapon that essentially teleported energy to be used as a weapon. They were reportedly scared off by the potential. SOmething like that would be worse than this.

(I forgot the name of the weapon; I'll ask my best friend who would remember this kind of thing.)
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Postby kg5uc » Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:00 pm

Ohlia: <i>"Is there any chance of this weapon electrocuting someone?"</i>

Highly doubtful, unless they were to open the box and play with the circuitry itself. Energy at radio frequency and above will heat or burn, not "electrocute," in the common sense of the word.

Skinjob: <i>"In some cases high radiation from a high frequency source is limited due to the frequency itself. For instance X band, 8500 to 9600 mhz, will arc-over in the wave guide if the power is very great. That's because the physical size of the wave guide diminishes as the frequency increases proportional to wave length. The effect is like narrowing the gap on a spark plug."</i>

While in the Air Force, I was a Ground Radio Repairman at a NORAD radar site. The main directional radar's output was several million watts, enough power that we commonly found dead birds all over the site that had been killed when they flew through the beam. It was imperative that the radar be shut down before working on the antenna structure or anywhere near it, since it would just as easily cook a human.

I'm not sure exactly what frequency that radar operated on, but you can see from the chart I included above that the official radar bands are at the high end of the X-band, if not just above it. If they can transmit a radar beam at that power level, sufficient to heat, burn, and kill, I'm sure that they can do it with this weapon as well. It's just a matter of focusing the output of the transmitting antenna with a reflecting dish, which is what they have done. <a href="http://cdn.news.aol.com/aolnews_photos/09/06/20070125144509990022">Here is a picture</a> of this device. As one can see, it is little more than a truck mounted radar dish.

Skinjob: <i>"I could detect some political influence in your post. Making rules for us to fight the enemy when the enemy has no rules is a recipe for defeat."</i>

Imagine that! I can detect political influence in many of your posts, too. It changes little in what transpires on the battlefield and in the political field. I'm sure you know what opinions are like, and that goes for both sides of the spectrum. I was merely making observations on the new weapon system based on my knowledge of electronics and radio wave propagation and its effect on biological targets. I made no "rules" and didn't suggest that we follow or not follow any existing rules.

Skinjob: <i>"Anything we can do to defeat the enemy is praiseworthy, not criminal."</i>

If this is to be applied to our side, then it is applicable to the other side, too. I'm sure that's the way the Muslim extremists view us, as well. If this is the way you want to play out this war, then I want to hear no cries about "morality and ethics" when the other side kidnaps our soldiers and people and torture and execute them. It's no more than you advocate doing to them...anything to win, right?

<i>"...I suppose it all depends on where one's loyalty rests."</i>

I know where my loyalties lie, and I'm sure you know where yours do, as well. I'm just not sure of your motivations and reasoning.

Bedford: <i>"The Soviet Union once experimented with a weapon that essentially teleported energy to be used as a weapon. They were reportedly scared off by the potential. SOmething like that would be worse than this.

(I forgot the name of the weapon; I'll ask my best friend who would remember this kind of thing.)"</i>

While I've never heard of this program, I'm sure it has the potential to be <i>much</i> worse than this weapon. I'd be interested to hear what the name of the weapon was...I'd like to look it up and see what it's about.
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Postby ohlia » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:34 pm

Thanks for responding to my question. I have learned much more than just about the weapon. Seeing the actual device brought thoughts of solar power to mind.
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