The U.S. Marines Want to Mount Powerful Lasers on Vehicles That Can Stun or Attack Out-of-Control Crowds

US Marines with Task Force Southwest (TFSW) observe their surroundings while at a security post for an advising mission with 1st Brigade, Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps as they conduct Operation Maiwand 12 at Camp Shorserack, Afghanistan, March 13, 2018. US Marine Corps/Sgt. Conner Robbins

US Marines with Task Force Southwest (TFSW) observe their surroundings while at a security post for an advising mission with 1st Brigade, Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps as they conduct Operation Maiwand 12 at Camp Shorserack, Afghanistan, March 13, 2018. US Marine Corps/Sgt. Conner Robbins

April 23, 2019 | Source: Business Insider, Jared Keller, 16 October 2018

The Marine Corps is on the hunt for a vehicle-mounted laser system that can produce "sustainable and controllable plasma at range" for the purposes of crowd control, according to a U.S. government solicitation.

A Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) solicitation details future needs for a Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser Systems (SCUPLS) that, when integrated into a small tactical vehicle like a Humvee or Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, can generate "a full spectrum of scalable non-lethal effects," including "flash bang effects, thermal ablation for pain, and delivery of intelligible voice commands at range."

This may sound tame, but it's not. The new solicitation builds on previous efforts the Marine Corps were able to achieve such as a variety of deeply uncomfortable, if non-lethal, effects, including "a sufficient level of thermal discomfort on human skin" at a range of up to 30 meters and a sonic component that delivers an acoustic at a sound level of a passing Formula 1 race car at full throttle.