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Report: US Marines developing taser-like weapon capable of hitting targets 100 yards away

U.S. Marines and sailors aboard Marine Corps Base-Camp Smedley D. Butler execute the shotgun range during the Security Augmentation Force Training from Dec. 12, 2019 on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brennan J. Beauton)
July 06, 2020

An electroshock weapon capable of incapacitating long-range targets is being developed by the Marine Corps in an effort to create “less lethal” options.

Able to be fired from any 12-gauge shotgun, the weapon is designed to disable targets up to 100 yards away, according to Stars and Stripes.

Unlike a standard taser that fires a pair of wired electrodes, the SPECTER round will contain a wireless bundle of tethered electrodes.

“To reduce the risk of blunt force injury to anyone hit by the projectile, it deploys a tiny parachute right before hitting its target, cutting its speed in half,” Stars and Stripes reported. “When the round gets within a meter of its target, it shoots out three electrode darts that can penetrate clothing and stick in the skin.”

The “Small Arms Pulsed Electronic Tetanization at Extended Range” (SPECTER), as it’s called, is being developed through a partnership between Harkind Dynamics in Colorado and the Defense Department’s Joint Intermediate Force Capabilities Office (JIFCO), New Scientist reported.

Since 2018, the Marine Corps has reportedly been searching for a wireless human electro-muscular incapacitation round with long-range capabilities that can also stun targets for up to thirty seconds.

In 2019, the U.S. government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program awarded Harkind Dynamics more than $120,000 in funding to develop a small-arms, long-range HEMI round, according to SBIR.

“A 12-gauge munition will have improved aerodynamic stability, flatter trajectory, and better accuracy than larger munitions, such as 40 millimeter,” the Harkind award stated. “Additionally, higher muzzle velocities can be used, thereby increasing effective range, by employing an electrode propulsion system to propel the electrodes forward of the munition towards the target, while simultaneously reducing munition velocity prior to impact, aiding in reduction of blunt impact injury.”

The SPECTER is part of an effort by the Marine Corps to expand non-lethal weapons. Released in May, a guidance for the Department of Defense’s non-lethal weapons program explained the role that non-lethal weapons will play in overall national defense strategy.

“Our potential adversaries will use any collateral damage –however lawful—to provoke escalation, generate negative views of America, or to erode political and public support for our operations,” Commandant Gen. David Berger stated in the guidance’s introduction. “Decisions to use—or forego—lethal force can incur a heavy cost. Intermediate force capabilities enable U.S. and allied forces in delivering accurate, tailorable, and compelling effects in complex and ambiguous scenarios, while simultaneously preventing unnecessary loss of life or destruction of property.”