Military

US Marines want non-lethal laser weapon that shouts at people a kilometer away

US Marines want non-lethal las...
The proposed new non-lethal laser would need to be vehicle-mountable like this high-energy laser being developed for the US Marine Corp by Raytheon
The proposed new non-lethal laser would need to be vehicle-mountable like this high-energy laser being developed for the US Marine Corp by Raytheon
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The proposed new non-lethal laser would need to be vehicle-mountable like this high-energy laser being developed for the US Marine Corp by Raytheon
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The proposed new non-lethal laser would need to be vehicle-mountable like this high-energy laser being developed for the US Marine Corp by Raytheon

The US Marine Corps wants a new laser weapon system that is not only non-lethal, but can yell at people. In a recently closed call for applications, the Marines outlined the requirements for the new vehicle-mobile Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser System (SCUPLS) that can disorient and cause pain without injury, yet can also send clear, audible warnings as far as 1,000 m (3,300 ft).

Laser weapons have garnered a lot of interest in recent years as the technology has caught up with the promise of directed energy weapons. While some lasers are designed to take out ICBMs at long distance, others have a more tactical application.

Case in point is the planned SCUPLS for the US Marine Corps. Described as a lightweight and energy efficient next-generation laser, its purpose isn't to destroy the enemy, but to deal with crowds, civil unrest, and other situations where lethal force isn't necessary or desirable. Instead, its function is to use a laser to create sustainable and controllable plasmas that produce a variety of non-lethal effects to warn and deter.

According to the request for applications from businesses to develop the system, SCUPLS builds on previous Marine programs that studied scalable laser induced plasma effects (LIPE), which showed promise, but produced systems that were cumbersome and impractical to install in a vehicle. However, the data from the tests proved valuable in developing more advanced and more compact non-lethal lasers.

Still in the concept stage, the SCUPLS is a suite of devices that include a femtosecond Ultra-Short Pulse Laser (USPL) working in combination with a nanosecond USPL. In practice, the femtosecond laser would heat up materials at the target to generate a plasma and the nanosecond laser would ignite it. The result would be bright flash and a loud bang similar to that made by a stun grenade.

In addition, the laser could be tuned and scaled to produce a feeling of intense, unbearable heat on human skin without causing lasting harm, and produce similar heating effects on fabric, denim, or leather – all at a distance of up to 100 m (330 ft). It would also include Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system capabilities.

Along with these effects, the SCUPLS would also have a system for giving audible warnings at up to a kilometer (3,300 ft) away. This isn't a new idea. Ever since the 1970s engineers have been working on more effective and understandable warning systems. But this isn't just a matter of making a bigger PA system. Sound distorts over distance, so the hailer would have to be able to analyze the area and counter-distort the message to make it intelligible to the listener.

In addition to all this, the SCUPLS needs to be compact and light enough to be installed in a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).

The successful application for SCUPLS will need to produce a design concept and determine its technical feasibility. This would then move to the prototyping phase followed by testing, evaluation, and eventual integration into Marine operations.

Source: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program

14 comments
anthony88
Will tin-foil hats reflect this back?
Username
Seems to me this is a weapon designed for governments to use against their own populace. A martial law weapon if ever there was one.
christopher
Better idea: don't make the people angry in the first place...
jd_dunerider
Oh what a novel idea christopher. Back here in reality though, there will always be angry people, just as there has been since people existed. How could anyone be against more options for non-harmful means of dealing with an angry mob? Have you seen the video of the guy catching a non-lethal round in the family jewels?
abel55
A marine with a non-lethal weapon. Is that against marine policy ,standards or something?
MarylandUSA
This looks more effective than the DSH "puke ray" I first wrote about in 2007 ( https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/enough-make-you-sick ). It also looks more humane that the heat ray that DoD developed a few years later, which caused the painful sensation of being burned without actually burning you.
Michael Z. Williamson
"Marines." "Non-lethal." I can tell you how THAT will play out.
Donn Treece
Since when is the Marine Corps in the business of non-lethal weapons? Only possible use is to use against our own citizens.
JDC1
First LT Spock,
Set phasers to stun.
OK, got that out of the way. The Active Denial system does similar things. https://www.rt.com/news/weapon-us-microwave-cannon-363/
We should have several options for non-lethal.
I'd like to see these HPM Active denial systems deployed to the border to "help" those illegals back over to the other side of the wall, or as barriers where there are no current walls.
thomas49
The Marine Corps shouldn't have the system described because the Marine Corps shouldn't be doing "crowd control" in the first place.
The mission of the basic Marine unit, the rifle squad, is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver or to repel the enemy's assault by fire and close combat.
If the US government wants a police force to keep its population down, well, that's a problem in itself, but at the very least it should leave the Marines alone and recruit elsewhere.