Raytheon microwave 'ray gun' directs unbearable heat on the skin from a 2km distance and is specifically designed for crowd dispersal.
What has Raytheon, the USA company that made radar equipment for yachts, got in common with sci-fi riot control?
Two years ago the UK Ministry of Defence’s Strategic Trends depicted an alarming futuristic scenario in which middle-class radicals could engage in revolutionary activity with violent ‘flashmobs’, threatening the authorities with lawless disorder.
There are growing signs that these predictions may turn true. Remember the Greek riots following the police shooting of a teenager? Recently, police confronted demonstrators protesting deteriorating economic conditions and political corruption in Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria. There have been smaller demonstrations in Spain, Turkey, Denmark and Italy.
‘These disturbances are another consequence of the bursting of the speculative capitalist bubble and the illusion of unlimited prosperity that once sustained it,’ says journalist Matthew Carr.
The US military sees the modern city as the battleground of the 21st century. Now it’s reported that the Pentagon is experimenting with an array of weapons, including the Active Denial System (ADS), a microwave ‘ray gun’ designed by Raytheon, which directs unbearable heat on the skin from a 2km distance and is specifically designed for crowd dispersal.
Other ongoing projects include acoustic devices and Pulsed Energy Projectiles (PEPs) which hurl plasma at crowds, causing ‘pain and temporary paralysis’.
These weapons were originally intended for the urban battlegrounds of the Third World. ‘But if Barack Obama fails to reactivate the ailing US economy, they may well find themselves deployed in the United States,’ writes Carr. ‘The news from Wall Street that US financiers awarded themselves a staggering $18.4bn in bonuses in 2008 hardly helps the new president’s cause.’
Next time your switch on your Raytheon radar, watch out!