It's been six long years since we first got wind of the Pentagon's Active Denial System, and four since it was slated to control riots in Iraq, but though we've seen reporters zapped by the device once or twice, it seems the Air Force-approved pain gun is only now entering service in Afghanistan. The BBC reports the device -- which generates a targeted burning sensation in humans -- is now deployed with US troops, though a military spokesman is assuring publications that it "has not been used operationally," and that the armed forces have yet to decide whether to actually use it. Wired reports the unit was plagued by technical and safety issues for years, not to mention political concerns, but as to that last we have to imagine even a semi-damaging heat ray beats the pants off lead-based alternatives.

Update: Sorry folks, false alarm -- a Air Force spokesperson just informed us that though the pain gun was indeed sent to Afghanistan, it's now being returned to the US without ever seeing use.

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Raytheon's pain gun finally gets deployed in Afghanistan (update: recalled)