The ADS was developed by the Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate and the Air Force Research Laboratory. (In science fiction, a directed-energy weapon, such as the ones used for the ADS, is often called a ‘ray gun’.) It is designed to work at the electromagnetic radiation frequency of 95 gigahertz (GHz), which is considered a frequency wavelength of about 3.2 millimeters. At such millimeter wavelengths, the waves can only penetrate about 0.4 millimeter (0.02 inch)—about 1/64th of an inch—into human skin.
When AMS waves are shot onto the skin of human targets, the waves excite ('energize') water molecules in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) so that the skin’s temperature rises to around 55 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit) with only about two seconds of exposure. At such higher-than-normal skin temperatures, the body feels a physically painful burning sensation that does not actually burn the skin. (Exposure for four minutes or longer would burn the skin.) The feeling is said to be similar to a lit light bulb pressed up against the skin. As another comparison, the microwaves used in common kitchen microwave ovens have the ability to reach several inches into the skin.
The ADS uses a transmitter to send a focused beam at intended human victims up to about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) away. At the Georgia test site, personnel fired ADS beams from a dish antenna on top of a military vehicle at people pretending to be enemy forces about 450 meters (1,500 feet) away—about one-half is maximum range. The military states the current ADS model is mounted on a vehicle, but more advanced models may be portable.
Colonel Kirk Hymes, director of the nonlethal weapons program at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, says of the APS: “This is one of the key technologies for the future. Nonlethal weapons are important for the escalation of force, especially in the environments our forces are operating in.”
More information about ADS is available at: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/v-mads.htm.
The Web site of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy is: http://www.de.afrl.af.mil/.
The Web site of the Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate is: https://www.jnlwp.com/Default.asp.