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Could This Non-Lethal Round Replace Tasers for Marines?

Lance Cpl. Brook Klahn, a combat engineer with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, aims a Taser during nonlethal weapons training at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, May 15, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Alexis B. Betances)
Lance Cpl. Brook Klahn, a combat engineer with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, aims a Taser during nonlethal weapons training at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, May 15, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Alexis B. Betances)

The Marine Corps wants the defense industry to design a wireless, non-lethal munition capable of stunning individuals out to 100 meters.

The human electro-muscular incapacitation, or HEMI, munition is intended to be a small-caliber, non-lethal round that can be fired from current conventional small arms, according to a Sept. 24 solicitation posted on www.sibr.gov, a government website for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is designed to encourage small business to engage in federal research and development.

Currently, all the services field a version of the Taser International X-26 "Taser," a pistol that fires a wire-tethered cartridge out to 25 feet to disrupt the body's electro-muscular system for about five seconds.

The Marine Corps is "seeking innovative technologies to design" a HEMI munition capable of "hitting human targets at an effective range of 100 meters and physically disabling them for at least 30 seconds up to more than three minutes," the solicitation states.

The projectile would have to be capable of withstanding the force of being fired from weapons chambered in calibers such as 9mm or 12-gauge, according to the solicitation.

"At least four previous DoD-sponsored SBIR efforts have been initiated on this technology area ... but none led to the development of an effective HEMI munition that met the [Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program] capability gap," it says.

If successful, the new technology may not be cheap. The solicitation states that the Marines want a "low-cost" solution described as less than "$1,000 per round."

"The prototype design may or may not be single use (i.e., parts of the design could be designed to be reusable)," the solicitation states. "This re-usability would be a design enhancement."

The closing date for the solicitation is Oct. 24.

Early prototypes that pass initial testing will be "utilized to build additional (100+) advanced prototypes for a long-range, extended-duration HEMI munition," according to the solicitation, which did not give a timeline for program completion.

In addition to the Marine Corps, "this developed capability to non-lethally disable/incapacitate individuals at distances in excess of 100 meters is needed to support the joint services, civilian law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Justice, the Secret Service, and Customs and Border Protection," it states.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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