Military Eyes Version of 'Pain Ray' for Aircraft

The military's "pain ray" may be going airborne.

New Scientist magazine reports that the Air Force has beefed up its share of funding for the Active Denial System, a tightly focused beam of microwaves that causes an intense, but theoretically harmless, burning sensation on the skin of its human targets.

The ADS, developed by the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, has previously mounted the full version of the ADS on a truck, and made a smaller version for infantry use.

The Air Force version, according to New Scientist, will be packed into an aircraft and be capable of handling multiple beams at once -- making it perfect for non-lethal crowd control.

That doesn't mean it'll happen, though. A recent Government Accountability Office survey rated the ADS a big waste of money, and some researchers have questioned whether it really is harmless to its targets.

The Air Force is increasing its annual funding of the system from $2 million to $10 million, the magazine reports.

The military announced in 2001 that the so-called "pain ray" was ready to go, but it has yet to be used on the battlefield over concerns about its legality and its potential for unintentional harm.

• Click here to read more in New Scientist.