Sound weapons that deliver invisible ammo in spotlight after American diplomats injured

The alleged attack on U.S. State Department officials in Cuba has made weapons that use sound a national conversation.

Acoustic weapons are not just in the arsenals of countries unfriendly to America. The U.S. military and American companies have developed some of the best of this kind of sonic weaponry.

Like rubber bullets, acoustic weapons tend to fall within the category of “non lethals” or “less lethals.” The general idea is that they exploit the sense of hearing to apply force in a way that will stop a target, but without causing permanent harm or taking a life.


The LRAD sound cannon is one of the better-known acoustic weapons designed to disperse crowds or disable a hostile target. It emits bursts of loud, irritating sounds that can discourage violent behavior.

Aside from being annoyed from an ear walloping, those targeted can also experience effects like headaches and nausea.

Sound as ammo

Since acoustic weapons use sound, these weapons deliver what could be described as “invisible” attacks.

One interesting twist in acoustic weaponry is Raytheon’s research into a “sonic shield.” Towards the end of 2011, Raytheon filed a very interesting patent for this weapon. 


Both shield and weapon

The Sonic Shield looks and functions like the riot shield that military and law enforcement use – but this shield is also a weapon.

Typically, acoustic weapons use sound against a target’s sense of hearing. But rather than target the ear, this acoustic weapon targets the lungs.

It would unleash this invisible “ammo” in a way that can cause the sensation of suffocation. So if you were a target, you would suddenly have a sense of suffocation but have no idea what was causing it – because the beam can not be seen.

The user can choose the intensity and unleash the invisible acoustic “ammo” at a level meant to warn and deter through to one intended to “temporarily incapacitate.”

Blasting wall of sound

According to the patent, Raytheon also aimed for a bunch of shields to be able to coordinate and work together to deliver a wall of sound.

The networked shields would provide a powerful combined beam. One shield could be designated as the lead or “master” shield, with the others being subserviant. The master shield would direct and coordinate the beam patterns.

A team of shields would deliver a more sophisticated beam with better power, range than the capabilities of a single shield.

For example, they could be used to create a more effective perimeter in a large riot scenario when trying to contain a dangerous situation.

How does it work?

The sonic shield looks and functions like a riot shield. It is a fortified “shell” with one side for the user and the other to face the target.

There is an acoustic horn as well as a sonic pulse generator built into the physical shell of the shield. This sonic pulse generator creates the acoustic pulses that blast out through the horn directed at the target.

When the user fires, the shield triggers the sonic pulse generator to generate a shot. The shot can include a burst of multiple pulses at a repetition rate fixed (or varied) for each of three settings: Warn, Stun or Incapacitate. 

The shield could also be equipped with a sensor that measures the distance to the target. If the target moves, then the weapon could automatically adjust to maintain the same pressure.


Heads up display for targeting

From behind the shield, the…

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