Monday, November 16, 2009

Israel Wants a Pain Ray, too!

The "Pain Ray," was developed by the Pentagon to provide a new form of weaponry to debilitate an enemy without causing significant bodily injury. These Active Denial Systems emit microwaves to heat the skin and cause intense pain but are "generally harmless." However, ADS has run up against approval issues from the Pentagon - despite years of human testing (how terrible would it be to be that private/"volunteer"?). Though the US military may not see these weapons in action any time soon, Israel is attempting to make headway on the use of the technology.

As opposed to the US system, which is pretty huge and takes hours to heat up in preparation for firing, Israel is championing a hand-held version which can be used like a taser (immediate use). The significant drawback to the smaller version is the radius affected: the US system covers an entire area but the Israeli version only hits a 100 feet ahead and four inches across, which only works for individual targets. Dr. Moshe Einat, the head of the Israeli research team from the University of Judea and Samaria, claims they have achieved a "unique know-how" to turn the pain ray technology into a smaller, portable version. Beyond this, it carries a meager price tag of $250,000. In the defense world, that's pennies.

Danger Room cites these Israeli developments (not by the IDF but by a university group) as a signal that other countries - Russia, China, anywhere else - could also harness and employ this technology in combat, or otherwise. This can lead to further issues of restraining the use of ADS technologies.

I perceive another problem with the Israelis obtaining a pain ray - use on the populations of Gaza and the West Bank. Unless Israel engages in an armed conflict anytime soon (which everyone hopes won't happen), the only feasible use would be in the Palestinian conflict. This is complicated by Israel's human rights record toward their Arab neighbors, which is not exactly untarnished.

The most useful role I foresee for ADS lies in domestic security,specifically police and paramilitary, rather than exclusively military. LAPD has already expressed serious interest in the devices. They can serve as a viable alternative to current crowd-control weaponry, such as rubber bullets and batons, which cause serious physical injury and carry a greater stigma.

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