U.S. Special Forces have proven themselves among the deadliest warriors on Earth, but some stealth missions call for a way to disable people inside a vehicle or boat without killing them. That requires a solution that even Batman might be proud to wear on his superhero utility belt — a canister that can puncture a vehicle's roof and release nonlethal gas inside.
Such ideal stopping power is being sought by the U.S. Special Operations Command in its new request for information from the defense industry. It envisions a canister fired by grenade launcher that falls and embeds itself within the sheet-metal roof of a truck, the steel door of a car or the fiberglass ceiling of a boat. The canister could then unleash a payload of choking knockout gas, or even explode like a stun grenade to leave vehicle occupants dazed and confused.
The nonlethal device must balance the tricky job of punching through vehicle roofs or doors without going all the way inside, lest it accidentally injure anyone. That might require glue, hooks or spikes to keep the payload attached to the target's roof, according to the Special Forces request.
A canister's payload could even be triggered wirelessly by Special Forces warriors with a transmitter, so that it only unleashes its nonlethal stopping power at the right time.
The U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) doesn't expect the "Kibosh Low Velocity Non-Lethal Delivery System" to require new technological breakthroughs — it's looking for a solution cobbled together from off-the-shelf parts six months after an official order is put through.
Still, it's a new way of considering how to use nonlethal force in situations where the human targets are not just inside a building or standing out in the open. "Special Operations Forces (SOF) missions require teams and individuals to be capable of stopping a vehicle/vessel and clearing a space," according to the request.
It would also join a growing arsenal of nonlethal military tools finding use in a dangerous world. The U.S. Air Force has been testing a crowd-sourced solution for using a small robot to stop fleeing vehicles by deploying an airbag underneath them. Special Forces operators armed with a nonlethal grenade-launcher canister could then disable the vehicle occupants to complete the takedown.