US military unveils new ray gun

A ray gun that shoots a beam which makes people feel as if they will catch fire has been unveiled by the US military. The technology is supposed to be harmless - a non-lethal way to get enemies to drop their weapons. Military officials say it could save the lives of innocent civilians and service members in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The weapon is not expected to go into production until at least 2010, but all branches of the military have expressed interest in it, officials said. During the first media demonstration of the weapon at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, airmen fired beams from a large dish antenna mounted atop a Humvee at people pretending to be rioters and acting out other scenarios US troops might encounter.

The crew fired beams from more than 500 yards away, nearly 17 times the range of existing non-lethal weapons, such as rubber bullets. While the sudden, 130-degree Fahrenheit (54-degree Celsius) heat was not painful, it was intense enough to make participants think their clothes were about to ignite.

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