View Full Version : Stopping threats cold

07-17-2009, 12:04 PM
Devices that stop vehicles and boats without harming their drivers are among the nonlethal weapons the Defense Department is planning to test within the next year, officials said.
Their capabilities range from disabling computer systems in cars and boats to temporarily blinding drivers by “flash-heating” their vehicles’ windshields, said Dave Law, technology division chief for the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. No firm timelines have been set, but program officials expect at least five weapons will move toward final testing within the next year. “Those are our two biggest gaps: vehicle stopping and vessel stop­ping,” Law said. “That’s where we’ve geared most of our invest­ments, to try and address those two capability gaps.” The plan marks a shift for the program, headed by Commandant Gen. James Conway, which has focused largely on stopping people, Law said. For example, in recent years it fielded nonlethal munitions that can be fired from a 12-gauge shotgun and green laser pointers that warn enemies to stay away.
High on the nonlethal wish list for 2010 are the radio frequency vehicle stopper and the radio fre­quency vessel stopper, which use high-powered microwaves to dis­able electrical systems at ranges of 100 to 200 yards. They are designed to stop cars, boats and other high­ speed watercraft while U.S. troops are still a safe distance from would­ be suicide bombers. The program has spent $1.2 million on the vehi­cle stopper and $2.6 million on the vessel stopper so far, said Linda Palmer, a financial officer for the nonlethal weapons program.
Work on the vehicle stopper began more than four years ago and has progressed to the point where an advanced prototype could be tested next year at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., Law said. A vehicle disabled with the device can be restarted after its battery termi­nals are removed and replaced.
The nonlethal program also is developing a device that disables a vehicle’s electrical system as the car or truck rolls over the device. Essentially an electrified speed bump, it allows troops to target vehicles selectively, disabling sus­picious ones by firing an electrical charge into the undercarriage.
If adopted, the speed-bump stop­per would augment the spiked nets troops now use to stop vehi­cles. The nets wrap around a vehi­cle’s axles, but they are inconve­nient because they must be cut away and discarded afterward, officials said. To date, the program has spent $800,000 on the project’s development, officials said. Additionally, officials expect to field carbon dioxide-based lasers designed to temporarily blind dri­vers during the day by “flash-heat­ing” their entire windshield with infrared rays, lighting it up and making it difficult to see.
“It’s really to go after the driver and suggest that he needs to slow down or stop,” Law said of the pro­ject, which has cost $1.5 million to date. “It puts enough light on the windshield … that you’d have a hard time seeing.” Green laser dazzlers already approved for use by the Pentagon have proven effective at night, but they don’t work as well during the day, when the contrast between a laser and its surroundings is less pronounced.
One catch, however, is that infrared lasers are dangerous to the naked eye. Nonlethal program researchers are working around this by developing a low-powered beam that seeks out a windshield before the larger laser is used, Law said. If no windshield is sighted, the weapon isn’t supposed to be able to fire.

Courtesy of Marine Corps Times

07-17-2009, 01:05 PM
interesting article. Maybe the Iraqis can use these devices usefully soon.