Weapons Technology
LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device)
Acoustic "Device" or Acoustic Weapon? (Updated)
Acoustic "Device" or Acoustic Weapon? (Updated)
By Sharon Weinberger
May 23, 2007

American Technologies Corporation  received some great publicity when in 2005 a cruise liner was able to beat back pirates using the company's Long Range Acoustic Device, a powerful hailing device.

As less-lethal weapons legend has it, the makers of LRAD made a strategic choice early not to call LRAD a weapon, and instead dub it a "device," thus avoiding some of the politically charged debates (and testing) that a weapon would entail. But the fact of the matter is, as this new BBC report makes clear, LRAD can be used as a weapon and a rather effective one at that (in fact, they call it a "sonic weapon." The BBC has some good details of what took place during the pirate attack in 2005:

As soon as I went on the deck I came under automatic fire straight away. A rocket grenade blew me off my feet," [Michael Groves] said. 

"The next thing I remember is rolling around and trying to check for shrapnel." 

He then quickly unwound a high pressure hose and aimed the jet at the attackers, forcing them to withdraw. 

They soon returned and Mr Gurung, the liner's Master of Arms, tried to activate the sonic weapon, known as a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). 

How the LRAD device works

But he fell to the floor after being hit in the upper body by a bullet. 


"I saw a spray of blood and he just went straight down," Mr Groves said. 

"I though he was gone but he opened one eye. He looked like half his head had been blown off." 

After dragging Mr Gurung to safety Mr Groves, who has served in the Royal Navy, turned the sonic weapon on the attackers. 

The loudhailer-style device is often used by UK and US troops and is capable of causing permanent damage to hearing from a distance of more than 300 metres (984ft). 

After 30 minutes the pirates, who were trying to board the ship, were forced to retreat and the ship's captain directed the liner to safer waters. 

Of course, the fact that LRAD can be used as a weapon raises some operational safety issues. As the BBC article notes: "Mr Groves said shock-waves from the LRAD has damaged his hearing and claims he now suffers from tinnitus."

UPDATE: Noah here.  For years, small groups in the military have been using the LRAD as a long-distance hailer. But now, the sonic um, "devices," have been named as an official Defense Department "program of record" -- opening the door to much larger military purchases. 

Related Links:

SOURCE: Wired News
US 'Sonic Blasters' Sold To China
Michael Groves and Som Bahadur Gurung received honours
US 'Sonic Blasters' Sold To China
By David Hambling
May 15, 2008 
There was a surprising piece of gear at last month's China International Police Forum, held in Beijing. There, among the rows of law enforcement tech, was an American machine, the Long Range Acoustic Device.  It's not something you'd expect to see, because, depending on who you ask, the LRAD is either a "hailer" for signaling people far away -- or a sonic blaster.

Weapons exports to China are of course illegal, after a law passed in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre. However, As I report in New Scientist, LRAD is not classed as a weapon.

We have seen similar devices used elsewhere – Danger Room reported on an incident last year in Tbilisi in the former Soviet Union ("Georgia Police Turns Sonic Blaster on Demonstrators") and in a TV news clip a local weapons expert describes it as "an acoustic gun." However, although many Western media describe LRAD as weapon –especially after it was used to repel Somali pirates in 2006 – the makers stick to calling it a "device." Sharon looked at the distinction in DR last year (Acoustic "Device" or Acoustic Weapon?") and noted then that not calling it a weapon was a strategic move to avoid "politically charged debates."

LRAD's main function is as a hailing device, being basically a super-bullhorn. But it can also be used what has been termed a "warning tone," an extremely loud and unpleasant sound said to resemble a fire alarm. According to Wikipedia's LRAD entry: 
Carl Gruenler, (former) vice president of military and government operations for American Technology Corp. (and who now runs a company making a competing device), says that being within 100 yards (90 m) of the device is extremely painful, but its use should be limited to 300 yards (270 m) to be effectively used. He concedes that the device is powerful enough to cause permanent auditory damage, but that it is only meant to be used for a few seconds at a time.
In any case, there is nothing like LRAD on the State Department's Munitions list, so for legal purposes it is not considered a weapon.  Which means its maker can openly announce the LRAD's export to China. But it would be ironic to say the least if free speech protesters at this year's Beijing Olympics were drowned out or driven off by police wielding American technology. 


SOURCE: Wired News
FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Pegasus Research Consortium distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
~ MENU ~


Webpages  © 2001-2016
Blue Knight Productions