Weapons that can incapacitate crowds of people by sweeping a lightning-like beam of electricity across them are being readied for sale to military and police forces in the US and Europe.
A weapon under development by Rheinmetall, based in Dorf, Germany, creates a conducting channel by using a small explosive charge to squirt a stream of tiny conductive fibres through the air at the victim.
Meanwhile, Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS), based in Anderson, Indiana, will be one of the first companies to market another type of wireless weapon. Instead of using fibres, the $9000 Close Quarters Shock Rifle projects an ionised gas, or plasma, towards the target, producing a conducting channel. It will also interfere with electronic ignition systems and stop vehicles.
"We will be able to fire a stream of electricity like water out of a hose at one or many targets in a single sweep," claims XADS president Peter Bitar.
XADS is also planning a more advanced weapon which it hopes will have a range of 100 metres or more. Instead of firing ionised gas, it will probably use a powerful laser to ionise the air itself. This intense pulse - which is said not to harm the eyes - ionises the air, producing long, thread-like filaments of glowing plasma that can be sustained by repeating the pulse every few milliseconds. This plasma channel is then used to deliver a shock to the victims similar to a Taser's 50,000-volt, 26-watt shock.
Sweeping stun guns to target crowds:
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