New technology is the basis for future weapons that were once only a fantasy of science fiction. These aren’t just smart weapons-they’re brilliant. Eureka Aerospace has created a high-powered electro-magnetic system (HPEMS) that can bring cars to a screeching halt. It uses microwave energy to disable or damage a car’s microprocessor, which controls the engine’s functions. Presently the device is rather large-5 feet long, 3 feet wide, and it weighs a little less than 200 pounds. It can disable cars within a 50 foot range. With proper funding and more research, it is likely that within 2 years, the weapon can be reduced to 50 pounds and have a range of 600 feet. It is purported to be harmless to humans. The HPEMS will be valuable in creating effective highway blockades, as well as securing the perimeter for the refueling of oil rigs at sea.
Another exciting nonlethal future weapon, used to disrupt and neutralize a threat is the Active Denial System (ADS). It uses a 95 GHz wave to produce an “intolerable heat sensation” that feels like an intense sunburn, which immediately repels the target. This weapon adds new meaning to the phrase “reach out and touch someone.” Tested on hundreds of subjects, it is also reported to be safe to humans. However, one service member of the 820th Security Forces Group, based at Moody Air Force Base, in Georgia, received 2nd degree burns. The long term effects of the use of such weapons has yet to be discovered. Decades of research indicate that the effect is expected to end, once the person steps out of the beam, and the damage is not supposed to be lasting, as long as the beam does not exceed a certain time. While the specified time is classified, it is reported to be in the range of seconds, rather than minutes. The Department of Energy is interested in ADS, as a way to repel intruders from nuclear facilities, but more testing is needed before it can be implemented. The ADS is also likely to be helpful in protecting embassies, and military installations.
Inspired by Star Wars weapons, Peter Bitar, chief developer and president of Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems, has created a nonlethal directed energy device called the StunStrike. In the most basic explanation, it fires a bolt of lightning. It delivers voltage powerful enough to temporarily incapacitate muscles. Bitar, of Arab descent, feels that it would be particularly effective in the Middle East, as many people there are deathly afraid of lightning. The weapon I observed on Discovery’s Future Weapons series, was the size of a large brief case, and could fire 200,000 volts-(enough to knock a man off his feet.) The directed energy pulses can be increased to a lethal dose, if necessary. This could be particularly helpful in door to door searches in Iraq, or other countries, in war time. It would also be useful in an airplane cabin to overpower hijackers. It moves at the speed of light, and in some cases, at certain frequencies, it can penetrate walls. The portable brief case, battery-operated prototype, has a 10 foot range, while vehicle mounted weapons have a range of about 35 feet. Bitar asserts that the technology is the easy part, but funding is holding back much needed research.
Another example of a cutting edge weapon, is the hand held laser, that causes a temporary blindness that disorients, and disables a person. This is particularly useful in checkpoint situations, where a person will not stop. These are currently being used in Iraq.
Both the military and law enforcement are interested in other radio-frequency weapons that can sabotage the electronics of land mines, disable shoulder-fired missiles, and interfere with vehicles.
There is also a great deal of research into larger laser beams, that could annihilate targets many miles away, and be deployed from ships or planes, providing extremely surgical strikes.
While these are only a few of the latest weapons being researched, it is evident that new technology could change the way that laws are enforced, as well as the way that wars are fought.