January 6, 2012
Defense Department’s Hi-Tech Weapons ‘Wish List’ Leaked Online
A wish list of military weaponry purportedly from the United States' Department of Defense leaked onto the Internet this week and includes desired upgrades for existing weapons as well as numerous pitches for elaborate new devices.
While the list includes lots of James Bond-like gadgetry -- such as a device that produces underwater sound waves at a frequency which induces nausea in scuba divers -- it also contained several suggestions for technology that could eventually be used against civilian populations. These included lasers and concentrated heat beams designed to break up and disperse large crowds.
A copy of the roughly 100-page report, officially titled the Non-Lethal Weapons Reference Book, was published online by the “anti-secrecy” website Public Intelligence.
Insiders say the list is a sort of “sales pitch” to Congress and is intended to help the Defense Department's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) branch obtain additional funding.
This subdivision of the Department of Defense was created in 1996 with the intention of creating and deploying non-lethal weapons in the US military following bungled operations in Somalia and Bosnia.
But Washington insider James Lewis, an expert in military technology at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he was familiar with the program and the list.
“They came up with a new set of missions that didn't involve blowing things up. [“¦] They're developing the technologies to make it work. It's not clear if some of these things will ever see the light of day, but that's what they're trying to do,” Lewis told BBC News
The report offers a detailed profile of each proposed weapon, including its potential for collateral damage and its policy implications.
Some of the physical effects on the human body listed for the weapons included deafness, temporary blindness and paralysis.
One far-fetched proposal was for a so-called “Laser Based Flow Modification” device, which would use lasers to alter the aerodynamic flow around the wings of enemy aircraft, causing them to spontaneously change direction.
A sample cross-section of the report included proposals such:
- A system that would direct human movement using “heat sensations” to cause “involuntary movement”.
- A device for emitting electro-muscular pulses causing prolonged incapacitation in individuals.
- A portable system that uses high-powered microwaves to stall car engines from a distance.
- A drone plane which emits microwaves that can stop ships by interfering their electrical systems.
The JNLWD has repeatedly come under fire in recent years for spending large amounts of money on projects that are of questionable use and have, as yet, failed to actually materialize. A report by the US Government Accountability Office in 2009 stated that the organization had dished out at least $386 million on some 50 research projects, none of which were ever seen through to completion.
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