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A Big Bang and Flash With LTL

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2003
2 pages
This article discusses the nature and status of a technological effort to develop a less-than-lethal (LTL) weapon that will confront aggressive and resistant subjects with a flash of light whose brightness will rival looking directly into the sun, accompanied by a simultaneous "bang" that will reach a painful 170 decibels.
The National Institute of Justice is funding the development of such a weapon by Law Enforcement Technologies (LET). The funding is for the development of two versions of the flash-bang ballistic round. One version will enable the user to manually select the range at which the round will burst. The second, more sophisticated version, will have a radar-controlled burst capability. In both versions, when the round bursts, flake aluminum is ejected and ignited to create a brilliant flash that is comparable to looking directly into the sun for 60 milliseconds, but causes no permanent damage to a person's vision. Neither does the flake aluminum pose an appreciable burning hazard. The acoustics reach a level of 170 decibels, but cause no permanent damage to hearing. The radar-controlled system is expected to be ready for field-testing later this year and be available commercially in 2004. Live rounds are expected to cost approximately $60 and training rounds about $30. The launchers will be priced at approximately $2,500, but leasing options will help keep the launchers affordable for small agencies. LET is already planning to enhance the rounds by adding irritating chemicals or paint that could mark a suspect indelibly. Without these added irritants, the disorienting effects of the round's burst will last between 45 seconds and 15 minutes, depending on various factors.

Date Published: January 1, 2003