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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Microwave gun to be used by US troops on Iraq rioters



Microwave weapons that cause pain without lasting injury are to be issued to American troops in Iraq for the first time as concern mounts over the growing number of civilians killed in fighting.


The non-lethal weapons, which use high-powered electromagnetic beams, will be fitted to vehicles already in Iraq, which will allow the system to be introduced as early as next year.

Using technology similar to that found in a conventional microwave oven, the beam rapidly heats water molecules in the skin to cause intolerable pain and a burning sensation. The invisible beam penetrates the skin to a depth of less than a millimetre. As soon as the target moves out of the beam's path, the pain disappears.

Because there are no after-effects, the United States Department of Defence believes that the weapons will be particularly useful in urban conflict. The beam could be used to scatter large crowds in which insurgents operate at close quarters to both troops and civilians.

'The skin gets extremely hot, and people can't stand the pain, so they have to move - and move in the way we want them to,' said Col Wade Hall of the Office of Force Transformation, a body formed in November 2001 to promote rapid improvement across all of the American armed services."