Army wants rapid-fire rubber bullets for crowd control6
THE US army is planning to field "rubber bullets" for machine guns. Military officials claim the ammunition will allow them to more effectively quell violent protests without loss of life, but human rights campaigners are alarmed by the new weapon.
The final design for the XM1044 round has not been selected, according to an order placed on the Federal Business Opportunities website last month, but the army's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate has been working on a ring aerofoil projectile for some years. The round is a hollow plastic cylinder 40 millimetres across, looking something like a short toilet-paper roll. In flight its shape generates lift, giving it a longer range.
The army's existing crowd-control rounds are single shots fired from handheld grenade launchers with a range of about 50 metres - the XM1044 would double this range. It would be supplied in belts for the Mk19 grenade launcher, a truck-mounted weapon that can fire almost six rounds per second. The Mk19 has been exported to some 30 countries, including Egypt.
"The US army has a requirement for a rapid-fire non-lethal capability," says Ken Schulters, project manager for close combat systems at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. "All currently fielded non-lethal ammunition is single shot."
Firing rapidly at long range is likely to be dangerously inaccurate, says Angela Wright of Amnesty International. "Such a weapon system would allow for a burst of non-accurate fire at a crowd, with high risk of hitting bystanders, ricochets and of hitting vulnerable areas of the body," she says.
Despite being hollow and plastic, if a round were to strike someone in the head, it could severely injure or kill them, she adds.The U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC), Joint Munitions & Lethality (JM&L)Contracting Center, on behalf of the Project Manager, Close Combat Systems and the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (RDECOM-ARDEC), Picatinny Arsenal, NJ 07806-5000 intends to issue a solicitation requirement for a XM1044, 40mm Non-Lethal (NL) Blunt Trauma, Linked Cartridge which will operate out of the MK19 Mod 3 Grenade Machine Gun. The XM1044 Cartridge will be used to confuse, disorient, or momentarily distract potential threats without the use of deadly force. This cartridge is intended to be an area fire, low hazard, and non-shrapnel producing device. The XM1044 shall meet MIL-PRF-XM1044VB0, Performance Specification for the XM1044. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code for this acquisition is 332993.This will be a competitive acquisition resulting in the award of an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ), Firm Fixed Price contract(s) with a duration of five years, which includes Design Verification Testing (DVT), First Article Testing of the XM1044, 40mm NL Blunt Trauma, Linked Cartridges to MIL-PRF-XM1044VB0, and delivery of XM1044 inert, cutaway, and NL Cartridges. The required Delivery Schedule will be approximately 12,000-15,000 XM1044 per month.