Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, invited senior members of the Marine Corps and members of the media to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., for a demonstration and first-hand opportunity to feel the effects of the U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate’s Active Denial System March 9, 2012.
The Active Denial System is an advanced non-lethal technology that projects a long range, man-sized beam of millimeter waves at a range of up to 1000 meters to counter personnel.
“The system is state of the art technology, it’s not widely known…a lot of perceptions and misconceptions about what the system is and what it isn’t. It is a millimeter-wave system, it is not a microwave,” said Marine Col. Tracy Tafolla, Director of the U.S. DoD Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.
The Active Denial System produces a reversible heating sensation to the skin. The system uses a 95-gigahertz, millimeter-wave beam that penetrates only 1/64 of an inch into the skin.
“It’s a system that has been researched for 15 years; we’re comfortable that it’s a safe system,” Tafolla said.
Most currently available non-lethal weapons use kinetic energy, where the size and range of the target can limit or change the effectiveness of the weapon. The range of the Active Denial System is 10 times greater than other non-lethal weapons and can have the same compelling non-lethal effect on all human targets, regardless of size, age and gender.
“It could be used across the military spectrum of operations, perimeter security, crowd control, entry control points. You name it. I think our forces will figure out the many different applications that it would have,” Tafolla said.
The technology has undergone a full legal and treaty review and has been found to be compliant with the international legal obligations of the United States.
“Part of our job is educating and making sure that everyone understands, not only our military forces, but our general population understands that it is a safe system and we know a lot about it,” Tafolla said.
The Active Denial System remains at the ready state and is available for operational requests worldwide by commanders, but there are no plans in place for its deployment.