The US Marine Corps wants a new laser weapon which is non-lethal but also yells at other people. In a close call for applications, the Marines outlined the requirements for the new vehicle-mobile Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser System (SCUPLS). It can disorient and cause pain without injury. It can also send a clear, audible warning as far as 1000m of distance. Laser weapons have gained a lot of interest in recent years as the technology has finally caught up with the promise of directed energy weapons. Some lasers are designed to take out ICBMs at long distance while others have more tactical applications at their dispense.
The laser system is described as a lightweight and energy efficient next-generation laser. The purpose of the laser is not to destroy the enemy but to deal with other issues like civil unrest and different situations where lethal force is not necessary or required. Its function is to use a laser to create sustainable and controllable plasmas which produce a variety of non-lethal effects to warn. As per the request for applications from businesses to develop the system, SCUPLS builds on previous Marine programs which studied scalable laser-induced plasma effects (LIPE).
The data from the tests proved valuable in developing more advanced and more compact non-lethal lasers. The laser system is still in the concept stage. It will be a suite of devices which include a femtosecond Ultra-Short Pulse Laser (USPL) which works with a combination with a nanosecond USPL. The femtosecond laser heats materials at the target to generate a plasma, and the nanosecond laser ignites it. The result will be a bright flash and a loud bang which is similar to what is made by a stun grenade. The laser can also be tuned and scaled to produce a feeling of intense, unbearable heat on human skin without causing any long-lasting harm. They provide a similar heating effect on fabric, denim or leather. This also includes Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system capabilities.
The SCUPLS will also have a system for giving audible warnings up to kilometer distance. This is not a new idea and since 1970s engineers have been working to develop more effective and understandable warning systems. This is not only for making a bigger PA system. Sound distorts over distance so hailer will be able to analyze the area and counter distort the message to make it intelligible to the listener. The SCUPLS also needs to be compact and light to be installed in a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The successful application for SCUPLS will be required to produce a design concept and determine its technical feasibility. This will then move to the prototype phase and then testing evaluation, and eventual integration will be done into Marine operations.