U.S. Marines to develop a lightweight next-gen laser system that can generate plasma for crowd control

One of the future systems slated for the U.S. Marine Corps will be a nonlethal laser gun with a very odd option. A Newsweek article reported that in addition to blinding or burning its targets, the directed energy weapon would also issue verbal warnings.

The system is called the Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser Systems (SCUPLS). It will be mounted on ground vehicles like the Humvee and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, as well as other unspecified platforms.

SCUPLS features a pair of infrared lasers. The first laser will fire pulses of infrared light that last only a tiny bit of a second. Each pulse will strip electrons from gas molecules in the air near the target.

When a gas molecule loses electrons, it turns into plasma. The ionized gas is invisible to the naked eye and inert unless excited by additional energy.

Once the first laser has created a sufficiently large ball of plasma near the target, its partner will open fire on the plasma. The pulses from the second laser last slightly longer and will impart enough energy into the ball to detonate it. (Related: U.S. Military creating non-lethal laser that projects screaming balls of plasma in the air to scare enemies.)

A laser weapon that warns targets to behave themselves – or else

What makes SCUPLS different from an actual flash-bang or other lasers is its flexibility. The intensity of the explosion can be adjusted to produce very different effects.

The weakest setting will result in an explosion that produces only sound. The detonation can be tuned in such a way that the resulting sound resembles human speech. This setting will let voice commands reach targets up to 330 feet (110 meters) away from the laser.

You may not think much about a weapon that tells you to stop and go no further. But a SCUPLS-delivered warning will be able to reach farther than megaphones or similarly-sized loudspeakers.

Furthermore, a loud verbal command is much safer than a warning shot with a real bullet. Actual gunfire is much more likely to cause panic in a crowd of nervous or angry people.

“If the threatening target continues to approach a military position, then the warfighter can escalate the force and place the plasma on the target to create non-lethal repel effects,” explained Department of Defense (DoD) researcher David Law. “The ability to deliver intelligible voice commands (in the target’s specific language) at very long ranges also provides a long-range hail and warn capability with minimal force.”

Set lasers to scold, stun, or scorch

The next setting will produce bright light and loud sound on the same level as a flash-bang grenade. The explosion will dazzle and disorient targets, allowing Marines to safely subdue them.

The highest intensity is the one most similar to traditional lasers. It will heat the skin to cause pain that should stop the target in his or her tracks.

SCUPLS will be able to warn or disable human targets who are on foot or in a vehicle of any sort, be it land, sea, or air. It will create up to ten plasma ball detonations in the span of a single second, allowing it to deliver an understandable and authoritative warning as well as a dose of punishing pain.

Law promises that the blindness, deafness, and burns caused by the higher laser settings will not cause permanent damage to victims. To ensure this, SCUPLS will feature the necessary equipment that tells its user exactly how much power it is pouring into the plasma balls.

NationalSecurity.news can tell you more about the latest weapons slated for use by America’s warfighters.

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