In today’s complex fighting environment, insurgents are known to shoot mortars from inside highly populated civilian areas. U.S. troops are unable to fire back without risking the lives of innocent people, but that could change thanks to the Department of Defense (DoD) Non-Lethal Weapons Program.
Using existing 81 mm mortar tubes and a modified M853A1 illuminating mortar, the Escalation of Force Branch at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command is developing a nonlethal “flash-bang” (also known as a stun grenade) mortar round that can temporarily disorient an enemy’s senses.
From over a kilometer away, troops could fire the Non-Lethal Indirect Fire Munition (NL-IDFM), the equivalent of 14 M84 stun grenades, simultaneously to stop enemy activity, deny them access to an area or help move people to another location, all while minimizing collateral damage and risk to Soldiers. Currently, developers are also looking to add infrared or ultraviolet ink to the mortar to paint anyone near the detonation, so Soldiers could identify people in a crowd. The mortar could also be used to control riots and answer other threats requiring a nonlethal response. Once the DoD certifies the mortar, it could be available to the Army Guard and other services for possible procurement by late 2017.