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Country develops nonlethal energy beam weapon

Zhao Lei
Updated: Dec 21,2014 2:38 PM     China Daily

System causes pain without injury and can be used on pirates

China has developed a nonlethal, directed-energy microwave weapon, that experts suggest can be used in anti-pirate and anti-terrorism operations.

The WB-1 MMW Denial System can cause unbearable pain without injury by projecting millimeter-wave beams onto a human body to excite the water molecules under the skin, according to China Poly Group Corp, one of the country’s major arms exporters.

The State-owned company debuted the WB-1 at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, commonly known as Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, last month.

Poly says the system features high operational safety, easy control and convenient maintenance, boasting that it has huge potential for crowd control and suppression of terrorists, as well as other defense uses. It did not reveal whether the weapon was developed by Poly itself or other Chinese institutes.

The WB-1 has an effective range of 80 meters, but a power enhancement upgrade will increase its range to up to 1 kilometer, according to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

“The weapon has a promising market prospect because it is very suitable to be used by the ships of the Coast Guard and marine surveillance authorities in law enforcement operations,” Cui Yiliang, an expert on ships and naval armament from Beijing, told China Daily.

Most vessels of China’s nonmilitary marine forces have no ship-borne weapons, so crew members usually resort to water cannons in hostile circumstances.

“In fact, the People’s Liberation Army navy has installed some kinds of directed-sound wave weapons on its ships, enabling them to shock and disperse hostile vessels,” Cui said.

An earlier report by PLA Daily said the acoustic device can fire powerful sound waves toward targets, adding that PLA navy ships that have the equipment have taken part in escort missions to the pirate-plagued Gulf of Aden.

Wang Ya’nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said that almost all crowd control and anti-riot equipment can cause permanent injury to humans, but the WB-1 will not inflict lasting harm.

“I think its target clients will include the police and marine departments because they need a lot of nonlethal weapons for low-intensity conflicts,” he said.

China is not alone in developing such weapons, which are often dubbed the “pain ray”. The United States developed its Active Denial System under the Department of Defense’s Non-Lethal Weapons Program and deployed it in Afghanistan in 2010. The ADS was later withdrawn without being adopted for real combat.

The US system is now a vehicle-mounted weapon, although US Marines and police are working on portable versions, New Scientist reported.