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

More on the news:

  • India and China have been locked in a tense standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh for the last six months. 
  • Twenty Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese were killed in a fierce clash between the two armies in Galwan Valley. 

About the microwave weapons:

  • Direct energy weapons: They aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
    • The microwave weapons that were allegedly deployed by China in Ladakh used beams of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the water in a human skin, causing pain and discomfort, claims the report.
  • Working similar to a microwave oven
    • An electron tube called a magnetron produces electromagnetic waves (microwaves) that bounce around the metal interior of the oven, and are absorbed by the food. 
    • The microwaves agitate the water molecules in the food, and their vibration produces heat that cooks the food. 
    • Foods with a high water content cook faster in a microwave often than drier foods.
  • Countries possessing the microwave weapons:A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems. 
    • WB-1: According to a report, China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.
    • Active Denial System: The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the Active Denial System. 
  • Past history:
    • The US apparently deployed such a weapon in Afghanistan, but withdrew it without ever using it against human targets.
    • In 2017, reports claimed that employees at the US embassy in Havana, Cuba, may have been targeted with a covert sonic weapon.
  • How dangerous are these weapons?: Though 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 whether it can kill or cause lasting damage in human targets.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/microwave-weapons-india-china-7056441/

Image Source: Military Wiki