The US Department of Defence has been working on a wearable sensor that would detect invisible radio frequencies amid reports that a microwave weapon might be causing a mysterious illness in US personnel.
Reports first surfaced from Cuba in 2016 of attacks on US embassy personnel that caused significant brain injury. The mysterious illness, which was named the “Havana syndrome”, causes symptoms like debilitating headaches, loss of hearing and balance, and permanent brain injuries.
Although the cause of the illness remains under investigation, the DoD appeared to be taking it seriously by funding research into a wearable sensor that would detect these radio frequencies, the New Scientist reports.
The new device would be capable of recording exposure to harmful levels of electromagnetic energy and inform the user. The detector would be “analogous” to devices already used by US soldiers to warn them of nerve agents and other chemical attacks.
“A wearable RF [radio frequency] detector to signal and document exposure to injurious levels of RF energy will allow personnel to take timely and appropriate protective measures, enable confident diagnoses of RF exposure injury, and serve as a critical intelligence resource for defining current battlefield threats,” according to the project plan.
If the device were to work as intended, the project plan stated it could be “useful for a wide variety of military operations” while also serving commercial purposes in “medical, industrial, manufacturing, and test facilities.”
This development comes after the mysterious illness that causes brain injuries has occurred in more than 130 spies, diplomats, soldiers and other US personnel overseas within the last five years, The New York Times reports, sparking concern within the Biden administration.
Prior to the report, it was estimated that about 60 people were impacted by the illness while overseas in Cuba and China.
The additional number of cases have come from Europe and other parts of Asia, as well as multiple potential instances on US soil.
President Joe Biden and his administration have now intensified their efforts to understand these “anomalous health incidents’’ among US personnel. All of the 18 intelligence agencies, as well as the Pentagon and State Department, have briefed lawmakers on several instances related to the mysterious illness, Politico reports.
A State Department-commissioned study released in December found that the incidents experienced by US personnel in Havana were similar to the incidents reported in China. The study summarised the incidents as being the effect of “directed, pulsed radio frequency (RF) energy.”
But investigators were still working to find hard evidence that radio frequency energy was the cause of the mysterious illnesses developing in US personnel overseas.