The Ministry of Defence has confirmed a device which can be used as a "sonic weapon" will be deployed in London during the Olympics. The American-made Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) can be used to send verbal warnings over a long distance or emit a beam of pain-inducing tones. The equipment was spotted fixed to a landing craft on the Thames at Westminster this week. An MoD spokesman said it would be used "primarily in the loud hailer mode". Royal Marines operating in patrol craft from HMS Ocean are also heavily armed with conventional firearms.
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David Hambling writes for Wired:
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All kinds of of devices have been dubbed “sonic blasters” — from the Long Range Acoustic Device super loudhailer to the piercing Banshee to the Inferno (”most unbearable, gut-wrenching noise I’ve ever heard in my life” according to Danger Room’s own Sharon Weinberger). But a new device, developed in Israel, merits the “sonic blaster” label more than most: the Thunder Generator really is a blaster, producing a series of ear-splitting explosions. Some are so loud, they could be deadly.
Israeli firm PDT Agro developed the Thunder Generator, based on a gadget to scare away birds. The design is very simple: gas from a cylinder of domestic liquid petroleum (LPG) is mixed with air and then detonated, producing a series of high-intensity blasts. Patented “pulse detonation” technology ensures high-decibel blasts. According to Defense News, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has now licensed a firm called ArmyTec to market the Thunder Generator for military and security applications.
CBC is reporting that the controversial LRAD device used at G20 protests in Pittsburgh is to become standard equipment for police:
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Vancouver police have a new crowd control device capable of emitting painfully loud blasts of sound, just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics, CBC News has learned.
The long range acoustic device (LRAD) can use sound as a weapon, emitting levels that cross the human threshold of pain and are potentially damaging to hearing. But it is also designed as a communications device that’s clearly audible up to a kilometre away.
Const. Lindsay Houghton said the device was first tested this summer as a public address system during the Celebration of Light fireworks events in Vancouver.
‘Backing into things like this without proper public discussion … is simply not good policy.”
—Robert Holmes, president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association
Houghton said police don’t plan to use the device for anything more than communication.
The police fired a sound cannon that emitted shrill beeps, causing demonstrators to cover their ears and back up, then threw tear gas canisters that released clouds of white smoke and stun grenades that exploded with sharp flashes of light. City officials said they believed it was the first time the sound cannon had been used publicly. “Other law enforcement agencies will be watching to see how it was used,” said Nate Harper, the Pittsburgh police bureau chief. “It served its purpose well.”