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Current Affairs

Microwave weapons

Date: 19 November 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

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

 

Background

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 on June 15.

 

Details

  • The report claimed that Chinese forces had turned two strategic hilltops occupied by Indian soldiers “into a microwave oven”, forcing them to retreat, and allowing the positions to be retaken without an exchange of conventional fire.

  • “Microwave weapons” that were allegedly deployed by China in Ladakh used beams of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the water in a human target’s skin, causing pain and discomfort.

  • “Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.

  • China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014.

  • The US apparently deployed such a weapon in Afghanistan, but withdrew it without ever using it against human targets.

  • American diplomats and members of their families in Cuba and China were suspected to have been targeted using ‘microwave weapons’.

  • The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as ‘Havana Syndrome’.

  • Concerns have been raised on whether they can damage the eyes, or have a carcinogenic impact in the long term.

 

Principle of microwave

  • In a microwave oven, an electron tube called a magnetron produces electromagnetic waves (microwaves) that bounce around the metal interior of the appliance, 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 high water content cook faster in a microwave often than drier foods.