London 11 May 2012 Last updated at 19:31
By Gavin Thomas BBC News
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed a device which can be used as a “sonic weapon” will be deployed in London during the Olympics.
The American-made Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) can be used to send verbal warnings over a long distance or emit a beam of pain-inducing tones.
The equipment was spotted fixed to a landing craft on the Thames at Westminster this week.
An MoD spokesman said it would be used “primarily in the loud hailer mode”.
Royal Marines operating in patrol craft from HMS Ocean are also heavily armed with conventional firearms.
The piercing beam of sound emitted by the device is highly directional. Some versions of the LRAD are capable of producing deafening sound levels of 150 decibels at one metre.
But the device, which was used this week during Exercise Olympic Guardian, can also be used to broadcast verbal warnings, such as ordering crowds to disperse.
The San Diego-based LRAD Corporation has previously sold the device to the US Army, which deployed them in Iraq for crowd control.
They have also been bought by the US Navy and Air Force as well as a number of police forces worldwide.
It has been successfully used aboard ships to repel Somali pirates.
The panel-shaped LRAD is mounted onto steerable gimbals and said to be far more efficient than a normal loudspeaker.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “As part of the military contribution to the police led security effort to ensure a safe and secure games, a broad range of assets and equipment is being used by our armed forces”.
“This includes the LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) which will be deployed during the Olympic Games primarily to be used in the loud hailer mode as part of the measures to achieve a maritime stop on the Thames.”