Non-lethal weapons are designed to reduce casualty and lethality rates. These weapons are less likely to kill a target as compared to conventional weapons systems like knives, firearms as well as ammunition. Non-lethal weapons are utilized by police and combat situations to prevent the escalation of a given situational conflict. Employment of lethal weapons is usually prohibited during these situations to reduce the lethality of the seriousness of the injury. Non-Lethal weapons are also used across the military in a range of force continuum operations. Occupational forces and organizations like the United Nations make use of Non-Lethal weapons to establish peace during tense situations and to provide a sense of stability.
Non-Lethal Weapons are also used across the battlefields to control the movement of the civilian population from one place to another. The use of these weapons hereby ensures discipline without the use of lethal forces which could potentially lead to serious injuries or death. They were used by the USMC’s First Military Expeditionary Forces in Somalia in the year 1995. Similar tactics are used by police forces in-crowd, prisoners, as well as riot control. Non-Lethal Weapons are also used as a self-defense tactic by several people during trying situations. Typically, non-lethal weapons provide a certain degree of incapacitation without causing serious harm to the recipient. However, if kinetic munitions are to strike vulnerable areas, they are likely to cause considerable damage to the person. Hence non-lethal weapons are also known as less-lethal weapons owing to their tendency to cause serious damage on encountering sensitive regions like the neck, head, eyes, etc. Some of the common examples of non-lethal weapons include rubber buckshot, rubber bullets, soft polymer rounds, plastic bullets, wax bullets, beanbag rounds, and ring airfoil projectiles (both kinetic & tear gas projectiles) sponge grenades, as well as rubber bullets with electroshock effect.
Some non-lethal weapons, also known as less-lethal weapons are quantified as rather painful. Common examples of the same are inclusive of the non-lethal claymore, pulsed energy projectile, and pain ray. The non-lethal claymore is a crowd control munition that was mounted on the side of the M113 armored personnel carrier in Camp Bucca, Iraq (2008). The M5 made use of roughly 600 rubber balls. The Pulsed energy projectile makes use of a small blast of laser to create plasma on the surface of the skin which is then filled with laser energy that in turn causes an explosion. The Pain Laser is also known as the active denial system, this technology makes use of millimeter waves that heat water under the target’s skin. A sense of burning is experienced by the target on coming in contact with the pain laser.
The overall market for non-lethal weapons is anticipated to grow with a CAGR of 4-5% during the forecast period. Some of the common drivers for this market is the increased requirement for civilian safety, i.e. pepper spray is used as a non-lethal weapon by women to defend themselves during the assault. However, the use of non-lethal weapons is not legalized within certain nations such as New Zealand and India for civilian usage which is poised to serve as a key market restraint. The use of these weapons is legalized in countries like France, the Czech Republic, Spain, Austria, etc. Possession of non-lethal weapons like the stun gun is legal across states like Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, and Alaska. On studying some of the recent developments within the market, it is noted that Apastron Private Limited, an Indian company, partnered with the college of military engineering in October 2021 to produce non-lethal weapons such as the Vajra, Trishul, Sapper Punch, Dand V1, and Dand V2. The items will be sent to the Indian army as well as other law enforcement authorities in India, notably the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).