13:01 GMT18 April 2021
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    US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) plans to fit high-energy-laser active denial systems onto some of the AC-130J Ghostrider gunships currently under development.

    "We're not always going to kill people in our sights, sometimes we just want them to stop what they're doing … active denial weaponry is key to all of this," Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold, AFSOC commander, told the Directed Energy Summit, as quoted by IHS Jane's.

    The Active Denial System (ADS), often referred to as heat or pain rays, is meant to quickly heat the surface of the skin causing unbearable pain by firing a beam of 94-Ghz microwaves. The beam affects only the surface of the skin but does not cause any lasting damage. Hence ADS is considered to be a non-lethal weapon.

    The United States deployed the ADS to Afghanistan but the pain ray technology has never been used in an actual battle. The ADS is designed to be employed for crowd control.

    Similar systems are in development in Russia, but they are not meant to be used against machinery, not people. In July, Russia’s United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation (UIMC), part of Rostec Corporation, announced that it developed a super-high-frequency gun.

    Informally called the microwave gun, it is capable of deactivating the radio electronics of UAVs and the assault elements of precision weapons. The gun boasts an impact range of 6.2 miles and has a defense perimeter of 360 degrees.

    AC-130H Spectre over Santa Rosa Island, Northwest Florida coast
    © Wikipedia
    AC-130H Spectre over Santa Rosa Island, Northwest Florida coast

    The AC-130, manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is a heavily armed ground-attack aircraft modification of the C-130 Hercules transport plane. It was designed to perform close air support roles and carry out force protection missions.

    The AC-130J Ghostrider has a maximum range of 2,530 miles. It is equipped with a 30 mm ATK GAU-23/A autocannon, a 105 mm M102 Howitzer, AGM-176 Griffin missiles and GBU-44/B Viper Strike munitions, as well as AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

    The US Air Force operates AC-130U Spooky and AC-130W Stinger II variations, while the AC-130J Ghostrider is expected to enter service in the coming years.


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    non-lethal weapons, microwaves, Active Denial System (ADS), military hardware, Lockheed C-130 Hercules, AC-130J Ghostrider, US Air Force, US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), Russia, US
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