Pain, Anxiety, Weakness: How Modern Armies Utilise Sonic Weapons

This marks one of the promising fronts in the realm of armament.

19/07/2023 - 19:42

In contemporary military contexts, sonic or acoustic weaponry is gaining traction as a non-lethal option. While it doesn't result in lethal outcomes, it effectively disrupts adversaries' equilibrium. Further insight into this mode of weaponry is expounded upon in an article from correspondent

Acoustic weaponry refers to systems that affect targets with directed sound signals. Non-lethal acoustic armament can address a wide range of combat and auxiliary tasks, with notable applications in object protection and assault prevention.

Acoustic systems operating within the upper audible frequency range of 16 to 20 kHz exhibit superior operational and combat characteristics. Loud sound at these frequencies disproportionately impacts the eardrum, causing displacement of middle ear components and the emergence of painful sensations, similar to those experienced by a healthy individual at noise levels of 130-140 decibels. Experiments indicate that noise up to 130 decibels for durations up to 10 seconds does not result in irreversible hearing organ damage and is generally considered safe.

Concurrently, non-lethal hydroacoustic systems are progressively advancing, aimed at safeguarding aquatic environments against potential threats. Such weaponry possesses its own distinct attributes. In underwater conditions, acoustic emission can induce a range of adverse sensations. Apart from auditory discomfort, sensations of alarm, weakness, overall discomfort, and suppressed disposition may also arise.

Dependent on prevailing conditions and objectives, acoustic systems can be deployed independently or in conjunction with other types of non-lethal weaponry. For instance, the use of acoustic weaponry is sanctioned in global practice for crowd control, provided the crowd isn't displaying explicit aggression. Conversely, during riot suppression, it is recommended to employ UHF (ultra-high frequencies) systems for heightened effectiveness.

The first operation-ready prototypes of acoustic weaponry were developed in the early 2000s.


One notable advantage of acoustic weaponry lies in its relative simplicity. Such systems, intended for terrestrial deployment, can be constructed using accessible components with requisite characteristics. However, the creation of hydroacoustic systems, necessitating a distinct approach, demands fundamentally novel technologies.

Acoustic weaponry is distinguished by its flexibility in application. Given the rapidly evolving circumstances, operators can tailor the mode of operation and signal range of the acoustic station, ensuring uniform efficacy across the spectrum of activities. Additionally, emitters can function both as direct-target devices and as conventional loudspeakers.

Over the past two decades, the American device LRAD (Long-Range Acoustic Device) has garnered significant recognition, representing a portable system comprising an emitter-speaker, a controlled acoustic signal generator, and an amplifier. This apparatus serves as both a loudspeaker for message transmission and a fully capable combat asset.

This device can emit sound signals at varying frequencies and volumes within a sector width of up to 30 degrees, with range and impact contingent on selected operational parameters. The device can target individual entities as well as groups.

The LRAD acoustic device is incorporated within the arsenal of US military and law enforcement agencies, among others. It has been repeatedly employed in riot control and by ship crews combating piracy. In all such scenarios, LRAD has substantiated its effectiveness.

On the whole, non-lethal acoustic weaponry presently holds significant tactical and practical appeal. Its distinct attributes and advantages position it effectively within the military and other coercive entities. The demand for acoustic systems stimulates the development of new prototypes, thereby fostering the continued evolution of this field.



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