Early generation of NLW consist of various types of low velocity blunt impact weapons, such as projectiles loaded with low-velocity / low impact ammunition such as “soft” bean-bag rounds, rubber balls, rubber or plastic coated pellets, “flash-bang” and “hybrid” kinetic/chemical munitions. Non lethal munitions for standard weapons, currently used as part of non-lethal capability set include the various rubber ball and “soft” impact munitions fired from the M-16 and M4. Munitions available for the M-203 40mm grenade launcher and smoke launchers such as LVOSS, including various area munitions and a new sponge grenade, various stun grenades and stingball grenades. Large caliber non lethal ammunition rely primarily on flash/bang version, such as the 120mm tank cartridge.
Most blunt impact munitions are designed to be employed with standard hand-held firearms, including standard shotguns, M-16/M4 assault rifles, M203 grenade launcher, ARWEN special munitions launcher etc. Frangible and non-lethal munitions are designed for submachine guns, (9mm). A different concept is the airburst non-lethal munitions developed for the XM-29 Objective Individual Weapon System. This “hybrid” projectile has an effective range of 250 meters. A different hybrid concept for NLW munitions is the ShockRound, which represent a hybrid between impact and electrical shock stun.
Most types of kinetic non lethal munitions are prevalently lethal and must be used with special care, within strict operational limitations. To reduce such risks, Range Variable Non-Lethal kinetic energy munitions are considered, to offer true Non-Lethal effect over their entire engagement range, from muzzle to a maximum range of 100 meters. The munitions could include advanced fuses and proximity sensors sensing target range and time their function. Such munitions could function as non-lethal since they will sense the range to target and decelerate their velocity just before impact, by increasing their surface area or applying other braking technology. Another new concept is the Variable Velocity Rifle System (VVRS) which can fire different types of projectiles at various velocities, for lethal and non-lethal applications.
Kinetic munitions are also designed to operate as mines or hand thrown grenades. A typical non lethal mine is the Modular Crowd Control Munition (MCCM) which can also be used for force protection and general security applications. Grenade type weapons are designed to fit into standard smoke launchers. Further into the future, non lethal systems could use the Vortex Ring Gun concept, which could be programmed to create concussions at stand-off range. Except for being a pure energy weapon, Vortex Ring systems could also deliver impact munitions, flash/bang or chemical agents over a range of 50 meters. Vortex ring weapons could be retrofitted into existing weapons such as the Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher.
Additional parts of this article: