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Next generation non-lethal weapons being developed with ehnaced capability, longer range and lower risk of injury

The United States armed forces expect to encounter a variety of military operations in the future that are unconventional in nature. Known as Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) they include such things as peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, covert operations, and hostage rescue.


The unconventional threats is further enhanced as 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.  Indian Armed Forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police are facing Stone Pelting in Kashmir that refers to criminal rock throwing by Kashmiri youth who pelt, bombard or throw stones on them. Recently in US  law enforcement agencies responded to protests formed after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, many are turning to weapons other than firearms to disperse crowds.


To better arm our soldiers for these type of conflicts, the military is currently pursuing an agenda of developing non-lethal weapons that incapacitate the threat instead of killing them. 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.


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.


Australian police  recently have been provided with non lethal weapons that include semiautomatic rifles that fire marbles or capsicum rounds, stinger grenades that release rubber pellets when they explode in crowds and guns that fire rubber balls designed to strike at a distance of 50m with the force of a hard punch.


Non Lethal weapon requirements

There are many conditions under which deadly force is contrindicated by operational objectives. Unfortunately, since many low-intensity operations carry the threat of violence, the soldier, diplomat, or relief worker may still be in danger. The non-lethal weapon is an effective trade off between lethality and effectiveness. The ideal weapon must incapacitate the threat to the extent that it is not a threat anymore. This requires a careful balance between using too much force – which would reassert the weapon as lethal – or too little, thus only endangering the operator.


The  first criteria to be examined for any non-lethal weapon is capability. The weapon must be able to stop a person effectively without causing death or permanent damage. Human beings vary in physical structure; therefore, it is possible for the same weapon to be effective on some and not on others. Even more worrisome is the fact that the amount of force might be too much, resulting in death or maiming. The possibility of abuse looms large when it is virtually impossible to measure in advance whether or not a given level of force will be effective. The flip side is of this issue is also of great concern. The soldier armed with an ineffective non-lethal weapon is completely vulnerable in the face of a threat that has lethal force. In fact, the prevalence of lethal force today, incarnate primary as a conventional gun, is of grave concern. The mere fact that a soldier will be carrying a non-lethal weapon in the face of a potentially lethal threat lends itself to the tendency to err towards more power than less.


To be an effective alternative to deadly force, the traditional mechanism for the soldier, the ideal non-lethal weapon must first meet the criteria of composition. Feasibility for use in the field depends on a weapon being portable and lightweight. It also must be somewhat gun-like and easily securable on the person. In addition, the weapon must have the ability to be used over a considerable distance so that the soldier is not endangered by having to make a last-second decision regarding the level of the threat. Although training is required to teach the circumstances for the use of any weapon, the soldier using a non-lethal weapon must be even more aware of the situation around him because employment of the weapon typically depends on the extent of the threat, as opposed to just the existence of the threat itself.


The limitations stated above directly applies to the final attribute essential for creating a feasible non-lethal weapon. The power must be variable. The soldier must determine when to set a weapon on maximum level if put in the position of an attacking mob, or when to adjust it to a lower level to be used against children grabbing for his sidearm. The best power setting will neutralize the threat immediately, completely, and temporarily, with little or no side effects. “Set phasers to stun” may sound like science fiction, but the ability is essential if a non-lethal weapon is to be effective.

Unfortunately, no weapon has yet been developed that encompasses all of the above criteria. There are various trade-offs with each weapon, and each has a different application and is thus relatively restrictive in application. This is an inherent weakness of any weapon in that having access to all the variations of weapons for the situations that may arise is virtually impossible. The key must be to limit the uncertainty that may arise in a scenario, therefore narrowing the potential threats and ensuring the soldier has the proper weapon of choice.



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.


Weapons That Stun

The first classification of non-lethal weapons is weapons that stun. 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.


Plastic bullets have been used by the Israeli military with limited success. The goal of the rubber bullet is to inflict the right amount of pain to cause the threat to decease charging, or to disperse a crowd. At close ranges, the muzzle velocity of the round is fatal; yet, without significant velocity the bullet is widely inaccurate and often drops to the ground. Because of this, there is a very narrow distance in which they are effective as a deterrent. Also, the rubber bullet can cause serious damage if it hits anywhere other than the chest. A shot to the face or the groin area can cause permanent damage or even death.


Non-lethal / Stun Grenade

Stun grenades have been around for the past several decades. Often known as “flash-bangs,” they operate primarily by creating a blinding flash of light followed by a loud bang of about 182 decibels. They are thrown and explode within 1.5 to 2.5 seconds.  The concussion renders the threat stunned, at least temporarily.  It leaves individuals disoriented and can cause ear damage or post traumatic stress disorder. It also can cause severe burns and blast injuries, and panicked crowds can cause crush injuries, according a report by Kaiser Health News.


In July 2018, Marines Conducted  First Field Test Of ‘Non-Lethal’ Mortar Rounds Full of Flash-Bangs. The round’s design, as it stands now, consists of a modified 81mm M853A1 illumination shell body containing 14 submunitions. Each one of these is a stun grenade, or “flash-bang,” that delivers a painful 180 decibel bang – which could cause permanent hearing loss if a person had to endure it for a sustained period – and a blinding 1 million candela burst of light – a common candle gives off about one candela for comparison – to anyone in a five foot radius.


When the round hits an altitude of around 650 feet, it breaks in half, with parachutes pulling it apart at both ends. The flash-bangs, each with a streamer tail to slow their descent, then fall onto the target area. Engineers added delay fuzes in each one of the submunitions to do their best to makes sure they hit the ground before going off for maximum effect. A single round can effectively cover an area of more than 4,000 square feet, according to the Army. Otherwise, the NL-IDFM functions the same way as a standard M853A1. It has a range of between 490 and 1,640 yards, depending on the number of propelling charges the mortar crew attaches to the round.


“Currently, the armed forces are unable to deliver non-lethal effects at extended ranges,” Michael Markowitch, an engineer at the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal said in 2016 shortly after he and his colleagues received a patent for the 81mm mortar projectile’s design. “Our goal was to develop a mortar that would be capable of delivering a non-lethal payload at ranges typical of mortar systems.”


The weakness of this weapon is that if it is used too close to the threat, it will kill them; and if used at too great a distance, it will be ineffective and only make the operator vulnerable to counter-attack. The ideal situation for the use of this weapon is crowd dispersal and riot control. Also, the flash-bang will often be more effective in less-developed countries, as they tend to be more vulnerable to unexpected and unnatural noises.


Another type of alternate projectile is the bean-bag bullet. Fired from a shotgun-like air-powered device, the bean-bag bullet is a fabric container filled with either plastic or rubber shot. The effects and limitations are similar to those of the rubber bullet. Another variation of this type of projectile is the 40-mm non-lethal sponge grenade. Developed in direct response to an urgent request from U.S. Southern Command, the projectile has a plastic body equipped with a foam rubber nose.


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.  A sponge grenade is a riot control weapon, intended to be non-lethal, which is fired from a 40 mm grenade launcher to cause confusion, or otherwise temporarily disable its target. As a single blunt force object, it is best used when aimed at a particular individual. Sponge grenade projectile  weighs about 28 grams (1 ounce). It is bullet-shaped, with a foam rubber nose and a high-density, plastic projectile body.


It is “less-lethal” munition round for a 40 mm M203 or M79 grenade launcher that provides temporary incapacitation through blunt trauma. Minimum engagement range is 10–15 metres, and maximum effective range is 50 metres. Velocity at 50 metres is 200 feet per second. If used improperly—such as at distances closer than 10 metres—injuries to the targeted individual could prove fatal.


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.


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.


The next area of research for weapons that stun is the chemical arena. The use of chemical weapons in military operations other than war is extremely limited because chemical weapons are strictly controlled by several international treaties. However, since the use of some chemical weapons is allowed to resolve internal problems, an overview of the options available is relevant for this paper because U.S. forces often work in conjunction with a foreign nation’s military for various MOOTW.


CS gas, commonly referred to as tear gas, is used by police and riot control forces. CS stands for chlorobenzylidene malononitrile. These cartridges of gas are shot out of riot guns indirectly at crowds with an effective range of about 328 feet. A non-lethal grenade containing the gas also can be thrown. They pop open and release gas within a radius of about 32 feet, although Belzil notes that wind can spread the smoke farther.


The gas affects a person’s external and internal membranes, proving to be a considerable irritant to the eyes, throat, and lungs. While usually not fatal, nausea and faintness are potential side affects. The weakness of any chemical weapon is that adequate protection must be provided for the operator, lest they too fall victim to its effects. A type of non-lethal chemical weapon currently in development is a kind of sleeping gas. A chemical spray that makes people fall asleep before noticing what’s happening would be ideal in a terrorist/hostage situation. Although this weapon is not currently available, the prospect for a prototype is promising.


Pepper balls

Also known as OC capsules, these small plastic containers are filled with the pepper spray chemical called oleoresin capsicum. The size and shape depend on the manufacturer, but typically they are the size of a paintball round. They can be shot from modified paintball guns or a semi-automatic, less-lethal riot gun and have a range of about 164 feet.


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. If hit by one of these, an individual will feel an impact as though they were hit by a paintball. Gas will be released, giving the same effect as being pepper-sprayed at close range — difficulty breathing and eyes tearing up. If aimed at the face at a closer range, these projectiles can cause serious injury, including loss of an eye. At longer range, their trajectories are unpredictable, so they can indiscriminately hit bystanders.


US Army weapon fires paintball-like projectiles filled with a hot pepper solution.

The  US Army has a new non-lethal weapon to help soldiers in Afghanistan “irritate and deter” potential adversaries with pepper-filled balls, Army Times reports. The non-lethal launcher, known as the Variable Kinetic System (VKS), is made by PepperBall Technologies. It fires projectiles much like paintballs containing a hot pepper solution.


The projectiles have a range of around 50 yards and leave a “debilitating cloud,” impacting the eyes, nose and respiratory system. The irritant, which is 5% pelargonic acid vanillylamide (PAVA) and a synthetic version of pepper spray, is released when the projectile makes contact. The weapon is built like a paintball gun and can carry up to 180 rounds when it’s in “hopper mode” and 10 or 15 rounds when it’s in “magazine mode.”

Weapons That Immobilize

Weapons that immobilize include nets, sticky foam, and super lubricants. The net is a very basic type of non-lethal weapon that usually includes a harmless smoke screen to disorientate the threat to enable the operators to get close enough to capture him. The obvious downfall of such a device is the operator must come in close range with the threat. To work properly, the use of nets must be conducted by more than one individual, usually three or four. Because of this, the net is not an extremely effective weapon in military operations.


A weapon that is not only feasible but which has already been carried into a conflict is sticky foam. Carried on the backs of some Marines when they entered Somalia, sticky foam is a dispensed from a high powered, self-contained backpack not unlike a flame-thrower. The operator shoots the foam at the legs of the threat and immobilizes it. The inevitable weakness is that the threatening individual still has the use of his hands, in which he may be carrying a weapon. The natural response to this, enveloping the entire body in foam, is not recommended because if inhaled it would kill the individual by suffocation.


To circumvent this, it is possible to add more punch to the foam by lacing it with irritants such as pepper spray. This would combine the goal of immobilizing as well as deterring others and still causing significant irritation to the restrained individual so that he would be less likely to counterattack. One downside to this weapon is the apprehension of the individual. The foam is difficult to remove and requires solvents to get it off completely. If the foam was pulled off the body quickly, it would remove skin. This weapon, while proven to be effective by law enforcement agencies, could pose a problem in areas of the world where solvents are not available. The individual could seriously hurt himself if he attempted to remove the hardened foam. If left in a constrained position for a long period of time, he could conceivably die. Since both of these are contrary to the purpose of non-lethal weapons, there may be a reluctance to use foam in a less developed country.


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.


A type of foam that immobilizes without being sticky is super foam. Dispensed from a portable generator type device with a 275 gallon tank, the foam covers an area about 200 feet long by 20 feet wide and 4 feet high. The foam is often laced with irritants and its primary purpose is to serve as a barrier. While it looks like soap suds, the consistency is denser and does not blow away in the wind. Used for crowd control or to block the entrance to an embassy or other building, the foam is quite effective. Although portability of the generator is a question, this foam has excellent potential in limited applications.


An interesting non-lethal weapon that might resemble something from a comedy movie is super lubricants. The lubricants could be applied in a building hallway to make it virtually impossible to pass through without falling. Similar applications could be used on roads to inhibit the progress of a vehicle. These super lubricants are Teflon based that may be very effective in creating a barrier that cannot be crossed quickly. This would give soldiers ample warning to respond to a threat with additional 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.


The final type of weapons that immobilize are radio frequency weapons. These weapons come in a wide variety of choices; not all are designed for antipersonnel use, but categorizing them in this classification seems appropriate. The simplest type of radio frequency weapon is commonly used by the PSYOPs community: loudspeakers. These speakers, mounted on a truck, broadcast messages in an attempt to persuade or demoralize the potentially threatening population.


A more potent RF weapon currently under development is the high powered very low frequency (VLF) modulator. Working in the 20-35 KHz spectrum, the frequency emits from a 1-2 meter antenna dish to form into a type of acoustic bullet. The weapon is especially convenient because the power level is easily adjustable. At its low setting, the acoustic bullet causes physical discomfort — enough to deter most approaching threats. Incrementally increasing the power nets an effect of nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains. The highest settings can cause a person’s bones to resonate, which is very painful, as it can ultimately cause the bones to literally explode internally. Aimed at the head, the resonating skull bones have caused people to hear “voices.” Researched by the Russian military more extensively than by the U.S., the Russians actually offered the use of such a weapon to the FBI in the Branch Davidian standoff to make them think that “God” was talking to them. Concerned with the unpredictability of what the voices might actually say to the followers, the FBI declined the offer. Another RF weapon that was ready for use back in 1978 was developed under the guise of Operation PIQUE. Developed by the CIA, the plan was to bounce high powered radio signals off the ionosphere to affect the mental functions of people in selected areas, including Eastern European nuclear installations.


Active Denial System: 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.


Weapons Against Machinery

The next area of non-lethal weapons is primarily used against machinery. Often called direct energy weapons, or “Demons,” these devices can either cause the machinery to stop functioning or to render it vulnerable to further, more lethal attacks. In addition to this effect, man has become very dependent upon the use of machines and is often rendered helpless in a situation when they become dysfunctional. Therefore, it is only appropriate that they are covered here. The primary anti-machinery arsenal includes the microwave weapon, the non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse, and the laser weapon.


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.


The non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse is currently in development. One EMP weapon stationed in space with a wide area pulse has the ability to “fry” enemy electronics in a battle area. Developed in the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a smaller scale weapon is in the testing phase. A bank of capacitors in the weapon all release their stored energy in a very short time to create a super-high powered pulse. To give an example of the directed power associated with this weapon, the generator produced a “12-16 million amp pulse with a rise time of only 400 nanoseconds. The effective power of over four trillion watts exceeded the electrical generating capacity of the rest of the planet.”


Capable of being mounted in the nose of a cruise missile, the generator can be focused on a 30 degree swath to concentrate on a specific target within several hundred meters of the missile. The key, officials say, is not the pure power of the pulse, but the ability to focus the output. The energy must be deposited at a certain range and accuracy to be effective. On an even smaller scale, a portable EMP weapon could be carried by ground forces to destroy the electrical components in an armored vehicle or tank. This capability is being developed with police forces to emit a pulse that would stop a car almost immediately. Similar peripheral uses include enforcing a no-fly zone by disrupting the electronics of enemy aircraft, much like the microwave weapon discussed above.


The pulsed chemical laser is used to generate “hot, high-pressure plasma to create a predictable blast wave on the surface of the target.” This is a variation of another direct energy weapon currently in development. A different type of laser currently in development is the isotropic radiator. It is an explosion driven munition, capable of generating very bright, omni-directional light that would destroy the optics in enemy sensors. The inevitable side effect would be destroying the retinas in any human with his eyes open; therefore, it is necessary to have ample protection for the operator.


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.


Dazzlers emit infrared or invisible light against various electronic sensors, and visible light against humans, when they are intended to cause no long-term damage to eyes. The emitters are usually lasers, making what is termed a laser dazzler. Most of the contemporary systems are man-portable, and operate in either the red (a laser diode) or green (a diode-pumped solid-state laser, DPSS) areas of the electromagnetic spectrum. The green laser is chosen for its unique ability to react with the human eye. The green laser is less harmful to human eyes.


Weapons designed to cause permanent blindness are banned by the 1995 United Nations Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons. The dazzler is a non-lethal weapon intended to cause temporary blindness or disorientation and therefore falls outside this protocol.



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 Solid State Active Denial Technology (SS-ADT) is a non-lethal weapon system which disrupts hostile activities without causing permanent physical harm or collateral damage.

The U.S. Army Armaments Research Development and Engineering Center is leveraging Joint Service investments to develop the technology. SS-ADT is a directed energy weapon that uses radio frequency millimeter waves at 95 GHz traveling at the speed of light to create a brief intolerable heating sensation on the person’s skin at tactically useful ranges. The heating sensation propels individuals to instinctively move to escape the energy.


SS-ADT is 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.


Non-Lethal Laser Induced Plasma Effects (NL LIPE) uses two lasers to generate light, sound, and heat and could be useful for crowd control or other functions.

Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD), is working on. This specific project, called Non-Lethal Laser Induced Plasma Effects (NL LIPE), aims to have a perfected a beam that can produce audible instructions and commands to an individual or a small group of people within three years and maybe have a practical prototype system ready in five years.


The system is based on an interaction between two lasers. The first is what’s known as a femtosecond laser, which shoots out pulses of amplified light at an extremely high speed. This creates a ball of plasma, a field of highly electrified gas with unique properties distinct from other states of matter – gasses, liquids, and solids. The scientists  then  hit the  plasma field with a second small nanolaser to create different effects, such as light, sounds, and even the release of thermal energy. They say they’re working on developing ways to tune the system to produce specific audio wavelengths, which in turn will allow them to effectively artificially generate a human voice. It can also generate loud sounds – more than 140 decibels in some cases, the same as hearing a typical gunshot from 100 feet away – that could be distracting or painfully disorienting.


A practical system could potentially replace a host of less-than-lethal systems American forces already have available to them. These include visible lasers that can temporarily blind or disorient individuals, so-called “acoustic hailing devices” that focus sound waves at long range to convey messages or pump out painfully loud noise, and microwave active denial system “pain rays” that can chase people away with an unbearable burning sensation.


A plasma-based system could have added benefits in terms of range and safety over those existing devices, too. Theoretically, a practical device could hit a target with a less-than-lethal effect tens of miles away, exponentially greater than the aforementioned options. The arrangement also only creates an effect where the two lasers converge, meaning that there’s no broad range in between where the effects are the same. This, in turn, means that it’s less likely to inadvertently hit friendly troops or other bystanders situated between it and that actual target.



Global Non-Lethal Weapons Industry

Global Non-Lethal Weapons Market to Reach US$11. 9 Billion by the Year 2027. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for Non-Lethal Weapons estimated at US$7. 5 Billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$11. Billion. After an early analysis of the business implications of the pandemic and its induced economic crisis, growth in the Military segment is readjusted to a revised 3.2% CAGR for the next 7-year period. This segment currently accounts for a 16.6% share of the global Non-Lethal Weapons market.  The U.S. Accounts for Over 29.5% of Global Market Size in 2020, While China is Forecast to Grow at a 6.4% CAGR for the Period of 2020-2027


The Non-Lethal Weapons market in the U.S. is estimated at US$2.2 Billion in the year 2020. The country currently accounts for a 29.55% share in the global market. China, the world second largest economy, is forecast to reach an estimated market size of US$2.1 Billion in the year 2027 trailing a CAGR of 6.4% through 2027. Among the other noteworthy geographic markets are Japan and Canada, each forecast to grow at 6.3% and 5.5% respectively over the 2020-2027 period. Within Europe, Germany is forecast to grow at approximately 5.6% CAGR while Rest of European market (as defined in the study) will reach US$2.1 Billion by the year 2027.


Key Industries  include, among others, are AMTEC Less-Lethal Systems, Inc., Armament Systems & Procedures Inc. (ASP, Inc.), BAE Systems PLC, Combined Systems, Inc., Condor Non-Lethal Technologies, Herstal SA, Lamperd Less Lethal Inc., LRAD Corporation
Mission Less Lethal Technologies, NonLethal Technologies, Inc., Pepperball Technologies, Inc., Raytheon Company, Taser International, Inc., and The SAFARILAND Group.


Human rights

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.



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