IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

‘Microwave weapons’. What are they?

19th November, 2020 Science and Technology

Context: The Indian Army has rejected as “baseless and fake” a report in the British daily newspaper which had quoted a Chinese professor to claim that the Chinese army had used “microwave weapons” to drive Indian soldiers away from their positions in eastern Ladakh.

What are “microwave weapons”?

  • “Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
  • These weapons use “beams of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the water in a human target’s skin, causing pain and discomfort”.

Which countries have these “microwave weapons”?

  • A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems.
  • China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.
  • The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System

Have “microwave weapons” been used in the past?

  • The US apparently deployed such a weapon in Afghanistan, but withdrew it without ever using it against human targets.

How dangerous are these weapons?

  • Concerns have been raised on whether they can damage the eyes, or have a carcinogenic impact in the long term.