US company Communications and Power Industries (CPI) is developing a combined power source and millimetre electromagnetic wave generating device for a non-lethal weapon to be fitted to a US Special Operations Command Lockheed Martin AC-130 gunship.

The weapon, called the active denial system, fires a millimetre-wave electromagnetic energy beam across long distances. The beam will penetrate 4µ (1/64in) into a person's skin. It heats up the water molecules within the epidermis, giving an extreme burning sensation, but once the beam is turned off, the pain subsides.

The power and microwave source, which must be lightweight, will be developed under a four-year US Air Force Research Laboratory contract potentially worth $11 million. CPI, based in Palo Alto, California, was chosen because of earlier related work it had done for AFRL.

"It is currently in the design phase. We expect hardware in two years' time with integration into an AC-130 in 2008," says AFRL.

Rob Coppinger/London

Source: Flight International