Marines Want Crowd-Control Laser That Can Yell at People 1,000 Yards Away

A student with Infantry Officers Course 4-14, provides security for the extraction of American non-combatant role players after the long-range vertical insertion of a Company Landing Team during Exercise Talon Reach IV at Range 220, Sept. 19, 2014. The prospective infantry officers pointed a non-lethal laser at simulated protesters, which can cause nausea and disorientation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Lauren A. Kurkimilis)
A student with Infantry Officers Course 4-14, provides security for the extraction of American non-combatant role players after the long-range vertical insertion of a Company Landing Team during Exercise Talon Reach IV at Range 220, Sept. 19, 2014. The prospective infantry officers pointed a non-lethal laser at simulated protesters, which can cause nausea and disorientation. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Lauren A. Kurkimilis)

The Marine Corps wants small business owners' help in developing a new non-lethal laser system capable of transmitting orders to someone more than a half-mile away, burning through their clothing, or sending disorienting flash bangs that can temporarily blind them.

The Scalable Compact Ultra-Short Pulse Laser Systems would ideally fit on a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Humvee or even an unmanned system. That's according to a solicitation on the Small Business Innovation Research website, which encourages companies to compete for federal research and development programs.

The Marine Corps' deadline for applications on this laser system closed Wednesday. It's not immediately clear whether any small businesses sent in their ideas.

The ideal weapon system the Marine Corps wants should: produce flash-blind effects from a minimum distance of 100 meters; burn through common clothing, such as fabric, denim or leather; and deliver voice commands to those as far as 10 football fields away.

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"[The] weapon system should ... secure two-way communications and delivery of intelligible voice commands such as 'get out' to warn individuals at minimum distance of 100 meters and up to 1000 meters," the solicitation states.

The laser system should also be rugged enough to meet military environmental design and test processes, the message says. But it also needs thermal-cooling abilities that allow it to be attached to small vehicles.

Past iterations of these types of laser-weapon systems have shown promise, the announcement states, but they were too cumbersome to be attached to vehicles. While they were able to achieve extended-duration flash-bang effects and produce a "sufficient level of thermal discomfort on human skin," the final prototype wasn't able to deliver intelligible voice commands at 100 meters.

Once developed, this new non-lethal weapon could have additional applications outside the Marine Corps, according to the solicitation. Civilian law enforcement departments, the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Control or the Secret Service might also find it useful.

"The ability to non-lethally interdict a threatening person or persons has utility in many security and crowd control applications to include several municipal applications," the message states.

This isn't the first time the Marine Corps has looked at updating some of its non-lethal capabilities. Last month, a solicitation on the same website issued a callout for munitions that could stun people from more than 100 yards away.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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