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Next generation Directed energy based Non-lethal weapons being developed with longer range and lower risk of injury

The cities have become the new battleground and Urban Warfare new warfare model, from Iraqi-led coalition forces fighting ISIS, Boko Haram is carrying out its urban terror campaign against the Nigerian Army and its allies, to Afgan security forces carrying gun battles in heavily populated areas in fighting Taliban.


The security forces fighting urban warfare desire scalable effect weapons for personal incapitation, that subdue and/or incapacitate ( not kill) single or multiple targets in closed or open environments. Weapons are also required for vehicle interdiction that could stop/disable moving vehicle, up to high rates of speed, without harming vehicle occupants. Such weapons are also called Non lethal Weapons. Stop Aircraft on Ground Disable Aircraft on Ground Divert Aircraft in Air


The US Department of Defense (DoD) defines non-lethal weapons (NLWs) as weapons, devices, and munitions that are explicitly designed—and primarily employed—to immediately incapacitate targeted personnel or materiel, while minimizing fatalities, permanent injury to personnel, and undesired damage to property in the target area or environment.


Non-lethal weapons fill gaps between verbal warnings and lethal force. Security forces use these non-lethal weapons to deter hostile crowds. They have been urgently needed and used by U.S. forces in Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti. They have been found useful in disaster management like in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, where non-lethal weapons were used when riots occurred at food distribution sites. The need for non-lethal weapons is also increasing for the maritime environment where terrorists used small boats as the asymmetric weapon of choice, indistinguishable in heavily trafficked littorals.


According to Sweeping joint report published by the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations and Physicians for Human Rights, “The common of crowd-control weapons, or CCWs is that they are non-lethal and preferable to the use of more injurious means of dispersing a crowd, However, these weapons can often result in significant injuries, disability, and even death.”

Among the most dangerous CCWs are kinetic impact projectiles, such as rubber bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, and beanbag rounds, the report states. In a sample of 26 medical studies worldwide, the report identified 1,925 people who were injured by such projectiles — 53 of whom died from their injuries and 15 percent of whom suffered permanent disabilities. Of all the injuries, 70 percent were deemed “severe.” Rubber bullets have killed protesters in Nepal and injured countless others in Israel.


Non Lethal weapons

These ‘incapacitating’ NLWs range from simple, commercially available items (e.g., sock rounds, pepper spray, and entangling devices) to directed-energy systems that provide non-lethal counter-materiel and counter-personnel effects at distances greater than the range of small arms. These weapons include optical distractors or ‘dazzling lasers,’ acoustic hailing devices (which produce focused, directional sound waves with pre-programmed foreign phrases to deter individuals), and vehicle-entangling nets that can be deployed to puncture and lock up the front tires of an approaching vehicle (and thus give warfighters more time to better and safely approach a vehicle to ascertain the driver’s intent). In addition, fielded NLWs include flashbang munitions, blunt impact munitions, and human electromuscular incapacitation munitions.


Non-lethal / Stun Grenade

Stun grenade or flash grenade is a non-lethal anti-piracy device which produces a blinding flash of light and loud noise.  Stun grenades are used to temporary disorient pirates senses without causing any kind of permanent injury.


40mm sponge grenades

This 40mm round isn’t really a grenade: It’s a dense sponge fired from a grenade launcher from up to 75 meters away. It slams into the target with enough force to stun someone but the sponge cushions the impact, limiting the chance the target will be permanently injured or killed.


Rubber Ball Grenade

Rubber ball grenade as a non-lethal weapon sprays rubber bullets at nearby targets, stinging and bruising them. On detonation the rubber body of the grenade ruptures and the 100 rubber pellets and a cloud of CS Powder are propelled outward in a circular pattern.

The Grenade is most widely used as a crowd management tool by Law Enforcement and Corrections in indoor and outdoor operations. Generally reserved as a last selection when chemical agents and specialty impact munitions have not resolved the disorder or routed the crowd. The anti-piracy grenade also produces light and sound which can be used to deter pirates from coming towards the ship.


High-Capacity Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Dispenser

All oleoresin capsicum devices cause agitation to the skin, sinuses, and respiratory systems as well as coughing and crying. The High-Capacity Oleoresin Capsicum Dispenser used by the Marine Corps is specifically designed for 12 strong bursts of the chemical.

The non-lethal claymore

The Modular Crowd Control Munition is similar in operation to a claymore mine, but it delivers nonlethal effects to the threat by delivering a strong, nonpenetrating blow to the body with multiple submunitions (600 rubber balls). The MCCM can be fired singularly or in a group and has an effective range of 5 to 30 meters with a 60 degree coverage.

In crowd control, it provides a nonlethal counterpersonnel capability that can be used to break contact, enforce a buffer zone (standoff distance), or demonstrate a show of force.


Water Cannon

Water cannon is another non-lethal weapon which is extensively used on merchant vessels. As an anti-piracy method, the device delivers powerful and impenetrable stream of water that blows away pirates trying to board the ship. The cannon can also quickly fill the pirates’ boats to slow them down and hinder their maneuverability.

Foul Smelling liquid – Liquid Deterrent System ( or using Stun Gun)

An anti-piracy technology by the International Maritime Security Network of US involves showering approaching pirates with slick, foul-smelling green liquid, which stinks and burns. The burning sensation and the nasty stink forces pirates to jump into the water, thus stopping a possible pirate attack.


Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs)

The Directed Energy Weapons (DEWs) is a system using DE primarily as a means to incapacitate, damage, disable or destroy enemy equipment, facilities and/or personnel. Directed energy has the potential to yield cost effective weapons that can deliver precise, scalable effects – and at long ranges – with a large magazine capacity. Several DEW technologies that have shown promise include high power micro and millimeter wave, and lasers of various kinds (solid-state, chemical, fiber), both airborne and ground.


Radio frequency weapons are principally counterelectronic weapons. High-power microwave weapons have proven capable of gigawatt-class power output that can disrupt or even destroy modern electronics, but at comparatively short range, using single-shot, very-high peak- power EMPs. Radio frequency weapons can also use millimeter waves for counter personnel applications such as crowd control or perimeter security.


Pulsed Energy Projectile

The device directs an invisible induced plasma pulse at a target that will create a flash-bang near the intended target. When the plasma pulse strikes an individual, it results in a flash-bang effect that startles and distracts, and it also has a kinetic effect on the individual’s nerve sensors.


Plasma shield

Flashbangs are already known as a painful and occasionally lethal way to control foes. The Plasma Acoustic Shield System uses lasers to create pockets of plasma in the air and then detonates those pockets with another laser, creating a flashbang effect each time. Currently, the system can only make 10 explosions per second but the Pentagon is aiming for hundreds.


Shotgun tasers

Taser is an electronic control device (ECD). The typical Taser device is a handheld gadget that fires a pair of pins tethered to the handset by electrical wires. The handset sends pulses of high voltage electricity to the pins. Anyone shot by a Taser will experience neuromuscular incapacitation (NMI). That means the subject will lose the ability to control his or her muscles — the electric pulses cause muscles to tense. This usually results in the person falling down and gives law enforcement or military personnel time to restrain him or her


Extended Range Electronic Projectiles are shotgun rounds that each contain a mini, self-contained taser. They contain a battery, microprocessor, and 10 electrodes. The rounds fly for up to 100 feet before striking a target and burying four electrodes into its skin. Six more electrodes then deploy and spread the shock over more of the body.


Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)

Long range acoustic device is a non-lethal anti-piracy device which uses pain inducing sound beam to drive away the pirates. The sonic weapon produces high-pitched noise that is higher than the tolerance level of an average human being. LRAD has been used on few cargo and cruise ships until now.


Anti-Piracy Laser Device

The anti-piracy laser device uses non-lethal laser beam to provide a visual warning to pirates and distract them temporarily. The laser device can be used during both day and night, and can be easily operated by the ship’s crew.


Dazzle Gun

Dazzle gun is a type of laser weapon which uses green light to disorient and temporary blind the pirates. The concentrated blast of green light can be used during both day and night.


Pain Ray

The Active Denial System is an advanced, long-range non-lethal, directed energy, counter-personnel capability that projects a man-sized (1.5 m) beam of millimeter waves (not microwaves) at a range up to 1,000 meters. It will have the same compelling non-lethal effect on all human targets, regardless of size, age and gender.


The Active Denial System will support a full spectrum of operations ranging from non-lethal methods of crowd control, crowd dispersal, convoy and patrol protection, checkpoint security, perimeter security, area denial, and port protection, as well as other defensive and offensive operations from both fixed-site or mobile platforms.


The Active Denial System is needed because it’s the first non-lethal, directed-energy, counter-personnel system with an extended range greater than currently fielded non-lethal weapons. Most counter-personnel non-lethal weapons use kinetic energy (rubber rounds, bean bags, etc.).


A kinetic-based system has a higher risk of human injury, and its effectiveness varies in relation to the size, age and gender of the target. The Active Denial System, however, is consistently effective regardless of size, age and gender and has a range greater than small-arms range. The Active Denial System will provide military personnel with a non-lethal weapon that has the same effect on all human targets.


China develops microwave gun to control terrorists and sea pirates in East China and South China seas

China has developed WB-I Anti-riot Denial System, inflicts unbearable pain against human targets standing at range of about 80 meters, though it can be expanded upto 1 kilometer. It is likely to be used for internal security, by occupation forces against uprisings, crowd dispersal etc.


The system is similar to US’s Active Denial System (ADS) which works by firing a high-powered beam of 95 GHz waves at a target, which corresponds to a wavelength of 3.2 mm. The system uses short millimeter waves as it only penetrate the top layers of skin, with most of the energy being absorbed within 0.4 mm (1/64″), whereas long wavelength microwaves will penetrate into human tissue about 17mm (0.67″).


Most human test subjects reached their pain threshold within 3 seconds, and none could endure more than 5 seconds. Although touted by the US military as a more humane means of crowd control than the traditional rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons, the radical weapon failed to gain acceptance. The ADS was deployed in 2010 with the United States military in the Afghanistan War, but was withdrawn without seeing combat.


China’s Poly Group Corporation, the secretive state-owned maker of the device, is developing a more powerful version of the gun, according to Jane’s cited reports. The upgraded version could be mounted on ships, to enforce its maritime claims of disputed shipping lanes with Japan and Vietnam, in the East China and South China seas.


Next Generation Non-Lethal Weapons

The Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program and the Army’s Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Armament, Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) have been collaborating on a next generation Active Denial System that will use solid state technology and yield a smaller, lighter system with a reduction in the start-up time and lower cost. Solid-state active denial technology has the potential to provide a shorter range (~100 m), smaller spot size (~0.5 m) Active Denial System that offers size and weight reductions when compared to the current long range (1000 m), large spot-size systems (1.5 m). Using a gallium nitride semiconductor energy source to produce 95 GHz millimeter waves, solid state Active Denial Technology can be used as a stand-alone “adjunct” system that is integrated onto new or existing platforms.


The strength of DEWs is the ability to provide increased range capabilities, combined with the ability to control the effects (e.g., non-lethal destructive, neutralization, and/or disruptive effects) of the directed energy, with a high degree of precision. This means that NL-DEWs often provide desired non-lethal effects over an expanded range window (known as its ‘envelope’), i.e., the desired effects are provided safely at much shorter (minimum/safe) range and at a much longer (maximum/effective) range. Achieving this kind of increase to a weapon’s useful range envelope is critical for mitigating often-critical portions of the current non-lethal capability challenges. Therefore, one of the more important NL-DEW goals is to make them safe at both the muzzle and at much longer ranges. This means that NL-DEWs can outperform the more traditional ‘kinetic’ weapons, munitions, and projectiles.


Another technology development thrust area for the JNLWD is the development of NL-DEW systems, subsystems, and weapon components that provide a much smaller overall system size, weight, power consumption, and thermal management (cooling) capability, as well as a reduction in the overall system cost (SWAP/C2). The JNLWD have several ongoing science and technology research efforts dedicated to minimizing SWAP/C2 of the key NL-DEW subsystems and components, such as the development of compact prime-power systems, compact radio frequency–high power microwave antenna systems, advanced thermal management systems, and next-generation (higher power) NL-DEW sources.


This includes developing compact antennas by use of novel micro-coax transmission lines and integrated antenna feed, reduce packaging cost by 5X by using an integrated 94 GHz coax circuit. Advanced Compact Thermal Management Systems (TMS) by using micro-tube based thermal cooling system that employs a phase change material that reduces the current thermal management system by ~ 65% in both size and weight over conventional thermal coolers.


The JNLWD is also funding next-generation NL-DEW (fully instrumented human replicant) test targets to reduce the time required to complete human effects risk characterization studies and to reduce the cost of testing these next-generation weapons systems.


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