Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

China’s use of ‘Microwave Weapons’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Microwave weapons

Mains level : Not Much

The Indian Army has rejected a report in the British daily newspaper which claimed that the Chinese army had used “microwave weapons” to drive Indian soldiers away from their positions in eastern Ladakh.

The use of non-lethal weapons for violence and mob control is a contested issue. Can you suggest some alternatives to it apart from the use of water cannon and teargas?

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.
  • It uses a focussed beam of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the water in a human target’s skin, causing pain and discomfort.
  • In a microwave oven, an electron tube called a magnetron produces electromagnetic waves (microwaves) that bounce around the metal interior of the appliance, and are absorbed by the food.
  • The microwaves agitate the water molecules in the food, and their vibration produces heat that cooks the food.
  • Food with high water content cooks faster in a microwave often than drier foods.

Which countries have these “microwave weapons”?

  • A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems.
  • According to a report, 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”.

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.
  • It is not clear yet how China intends to use such a weapon, and whether it can kill or cause lasting damage to human targets.
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