≡ Menu

Pain Ray: Non-Lethal Active Denial System Earns Its Name

The Pain Ray (aka the Heat Ray) is Pentagon’s Active Denial System – a non-lethal weapon designed to disperse violent crowds and repel enemies without permanent injury.

The device turns electricity into invisible millimeter-wave radio frequency beam sending out 95GHz of focused heat waves to a distance of up to 2,500 feet. It then penetrates and heats up the top layer of the skin at about 3 sheets of paper worth of depth (1/64th of an inch or 0.4 mm) prompting people into near instant instinctive flight.

The US military says that its non-lethal weapon has been tested more than 11,000 times on around 700 volunteers and the chance of injury from the system is 0.1% or 1 in 1,000.

The project still has a number of issues to overcome: It takes 16 hours to boot up and once “On” the amount of energy it consumes makes even the best gas guzzlers blush from shame. More notably, the Pain Ray doesn’t work if it is raining, snowing or dusty. Still, as testified by Spencer Ackerman’s Wired Magazine video report below, under ideal testing conditions the Pain Ray certainly earns its name.

Like this article?

Please help me produce more content:



Please subscribe for free weekly updates:

  • I remember seeing this on future weapons. Back then i thought it was pretty cool that the military had come up with a non-lethal weapon. These days I am not so sure. The ability to protest something that we do not like is fundamental to America. This device could put an end to that ability. With teargas and other methods of crowd control you have accountability. This weapon is stealthy and can be used covertly with no accountability. It seems to me to be a method of control. While I like that this weapon is non-lethal, I do not wish to see anything like this used against citizens exercising freedom of speech.

    Michael Catrow

  • I very much agree and share your concerns Michael. Still this is better than simply shooting people as it happened during some of the student protests of the 1960s…

  • I wonder what it says about me that I work for the Department of Defense but don’t want the DoD having this sort of technology at its disposal. I’m with Michael Catrow on this issue – the ability to shut down protests on a whim using a pain ray isn’t appealing, no matter who has it or what they are using it for. The road to hell is paved with good intentions…

  •  Very interesting dichotomy friend – it gives a lot of food for thought…

Over 3,000 super smart people have subscribed to my newsletter: