Because killing your enemy is SOOO 20th century! Crowd control and civilian pacification have always been big problems for peacekeeping forces. Too little force and you'll be overrun. Too much force and you’ve just created a mob of martyrs or international incident. So what’s a modern military to do? Build new weapons to stop, but not drop, the opposition! We’re not talking old school rubber bullets and beanbags here. We’re talking state of the art, sci-fi class weaponry that can stop fools at the push of a button. Come with us now as Weekend Watchlist takes a gander at the latest advances in non-lethal weaponry, some of which are already deployed for use in the world today.
Let’s start out with a weapon that really stinks. The vortex ring gun fires compressed doughnuts of air at the target. Since messing up someone’s hair isn’t very likely to stop a crazed killer, the air blasts are infused with a chemical incapacity agent such as tear gas, pepper spray or malodorant. vortex ring guns are in development in all sizes ranging from hand carried rifles to vehicle mounted fart cannons.
An additional benefit of vortex ring weapons research is that it may prove useful for firefighters of the future to clear smoke choked hallways.
Tasers have been a reliable means of incapacitation for some time now. The problem with modern Tasers have been range. Sometimes you just need to stop someone before they get inside the 35ft range of a conventional stun gun. The answer? Put a Taser in a shotgun shell! As a bonus, peacekeeping forces won’t need to replace their existing stockpiles of 12-gauge shotguns.
And for all you nit-pickers out there, yes, this technically falls under the category of less lethal as opposed to non-lethal.
But what if you need to “pacify” a whole crowd of people? You’re certainly gonna need something with a little more oomph than a smoke ring or zappy shotgun. The U.S. military thinks it has the answer with the vehicle mounted Active Denial System. Or, more colorfully, The Pain Ray. This weapon fires bursts of electromagnetic radiation causing the sensation of… well, being burned alive by electromagnetic radiation.
Another weapon that may be used to disrupt violent protests in the future is the Thunder Generator. This cannon uses a patented “pulse detonation technology” to create explosions of air wherever it is pointed. Originally employed by Israeli farmers, the current incarnation is designed to create an abrupt fluctuation in air pressure to drive away birds. Today, the government of Israel is experimenting with creating a more powerful version to drive away people.
Next, we ride the lightning! Not all weapons need be fired. Sometimes it’s enough to just keep people out of certain areas. You know those force fields in science fiction movies? Meet the Laser Induced Plasma Channel! The real-life version of a force field uses a series to lasers to create channels of high-voltage plasma creating a nearly invisible electric fence. The U.S. military has also just showed off a larger version of the laser inducted plasma channel designed to stop motor vehicles. Fresh beats included at no charge.
Where might non-letal weapon development go in future? Here’s a PowerPoint presentation from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program for a glimpse into the goals an methodology that may one day lead to wars where no one dies.
You can find out more at jnlwp.defense.gov, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program’s web site (yeah, I’m kinda surprised too!)