The non-lethal energy-beam technology was developed in response to U.S. Department of Defense needs for soldiers to have options short of using deadly force, which is what most conventional weapons are designed for. The active-denial system technology was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. They have spent more than 10 years and $40 million dollars developing this new pain beam.
According to an Associated Press story, the active-denial technology has been tested on 72 people at Brooks Air Force Base since 1994. Humans have been exposed to the beam more than 6,500 times for an average of less than 10 seconds, with no serious injuries resulting.
Other than minor skin tenderness caused by repeated exposure to the beam, there are no lasting effects. A review of the weapon has determined that the risk level of being injured by it is minimal. The weapon also meets all U.S. treaty obligations. Further research, development and testing are expected to continue through the summer of 2001. A final review will be performed before the weapon is declared field-ready.
With the unveiling of the pain-beam gun, the Pentagon is poising itself for a new age of warfare. U.S. armed forces are often thrown into volatile areas of the world, where enemies are intermixed with innocent citizens. The U.S. Department of Defense is preparing for these situations by designing a weapon that repels attacks but lowers the potential for unintended civilian causalities.
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