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Pentagon developing microwave weapon to stop cars, trucks

by Justin King

The non-lethal weapon is designed to disrupt engine control modules, preventing most modern cars from continuing to drive.

The US military is apparently moving forward with plans to develop a microwave-based device to stop vehicles without the need for potentially lethal force.

Using gunfire to disable vehicles can be difficult and obviously dangerous to occupants, sometimes leading to deaths of confused civilians that are misinterpreted as suicide bombers when approaching military outposts.

Developed by the Defense Department's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWD), the directed-energy weapon focuses microwaves on incoming vehicles. The system works by causing errors in engine control modules and other electronic control systems.

"Anything that has electronics on it, these high-powered microwaves will affect," said David Law, head of JNLWD's technology division, as quoted by Defense One. "As long as the [transmitter] is on, it holds the vehicle stopped."

A small version is being designed to fit on the back of a truck, with an effective range of approximately 50 meters. A larger unit is also under development, potentially serving double duty in cities that are vulnerable to truck attacks against civilian pedestrians.