News: IDFM Nonlethal Program looks for knowledge of mortar systems
Story by Cpl. Jeremy Fasci
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Researchers and designers from the Indirect Fire and Munitions Nonlethal Program worked in tandem with a mortar section from 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Sept. 13, to get a better understanding of how Marines work together and how the mortar system is used Sept. 13.
The IDFM Nonlethal Program falls under the Nonlethal Weapons Directorate and Escalation of Force Branch and is supported by the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, the Human Effects Center of Excellence, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgran Division and the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center.
The individuals involved in the program are designing a nonlethal weapon that will give Marines and coalition forces the capability to suppress enemy forces at farther distances. Their idea is to basically use the existing 81mm mortar platform to create a mortar round that will be able to temporarily suppress an enemy through visual and auditory effects, much like a flash bang but on a larger scale with a larger effect range.
“What we do is take identified gaps in capabilities that exist within the Marine Corps and we conduct research and development through the joint nonlethal directorate with the purpose to determine capabilities that will fill those gaps,” said Arthur Bornshein, director, Enterprise Solutions, Dynology Corporation.
There are already nonlethal weapons incorporated into the Marine Corps arsenal but there is nothing that would give Marines an ability to use nonlethal force at the ranges up to 4,000 meters (.24 miles).
“The capability gap that has been identified is the inability to suppress personnel with nonlethal weapons at ranges beyond those in the current inventory,” said Bornshein. “There are programs now that are attempting to fill gaps out to 500 meters but if a threat is engaging coalition or Marine forces at ranges beyond that there is no delivery system for nonlethal weapons out to 4,000 meters.”
Some in the research and design team designing this weapon systems have no experience with mortar systems. Coming to Camp Pendleton and seeing how these systems are used and talking with Marines is vital to their ability to accomplish their mission.
“We are looking at the accuracy of this system,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Allen Deneve, engineer, Air Force Research Laboratory. “With human effects if you get too close you end up causing unnecessary harm but if you are too far away you don’t get the effect you were looking for.”
While getting the opportunity to see how the mortar system works and the idiosyncrasies the members of the IDFM Nonlethal Program sat down with the Marines of the mortar section and asked for information from them.
“We appreciate feedback from the Marines. Whether they think this is valuable, some features or functions that they would like to see is one of the things that’s important to know now, early on in the program while we are going through the design phase,” said Deneve.
Coming out to Camp Pendleton gave the research and design team from the Air Force Research Laboratory an opportunity to gather valuable information for their testing. They will take the feedback from the Marines and the information they gained from their time at the range to further their design, increasing the ability for this type of weapon to possibly become a viable option for Marines and coalition forces in the future.