US 20020088367 A1
An air-burst detonation ballistic (10) for grenade launchers. The ballistic (10) can be fired from an unmodified grenade launcher, such as M-79, M-203, Granatpistole, and Mk 19 grenade launchers. The less-than-lethal ballistic (10) comprises a concussion element (13), a phosphorescent (13), and a chemical irritant (11). The nose of the ballistic comprise an energy-absorbing cavity (20) and a switch (21) preventing detonation of the ballistic (10) on impact.
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20. A less-than-lethal ballistic comprising:
a phosphorescent; and
a chemical irritant.
 This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/566,103, entitled “Non-Lethal Ballistic”, filed on May 5, 2000, which claimed the benefit of the filing of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/132,555, entitled “Personnel Immobilization Devices”, filed on May 5, 1999, and the specifications thereof are incorporated herein by reference.
 1. Field of the Invention (Technical Field)
 The present invention relates to ballistic devices for immobilizing personnel.
 2. Background Art
 Each year in the United States alone, hundreds of citizens are shot and killed by police officers who have no other option than to fire a lethal ballistic in order to protect themselves or innocent people. In a growing number of cases, the citizens who are shot and killed by police are unarmed, but are presenting a real or perceived threat to the officer or others. If police officers were able to use a less-than-lethal ballistic to incapacitate the suspect, many lives would be spared.
 At present, law enforcement officers have very few options when confronting a dangerous suspect. They can use lethal ballistics from standard weapons or fire rubber-covered bullets or beanbag rounds. Both rubber-covered bullets and beanbag rounds can be lethal. Beanbags have the additional disadvantage of only being effective at close range. Tear gas canisters employ timed fuses, and can be thrown back at officers employing the canisters. The present invention provides an additional weapon in the law enforcement arsenal, namely a less-than-lethal ballistic not requiring impact on a suspect.
 The present invention is of an air-burst detonation ballistic for grenade launchers. In the preferred embodiment, a sensor detonates the ballistic upon intersection of a beam, such as an infrared or acoustic beam, or detonation occurs via filament ignition wires connectable to microprocessor detonation control on the grenade launcher, or radar-based detonation is employed. The ballistic can be fired from an unmodified grenade launcher, such as M-79, M-203, Granatpistole, and Mk 19 grenade launchers. The ballistic employs a concussion element creating on detonation a report between approximately 120-300 decibels and an overpressure between approximately 1.8-3.0 psi, and/or a phosphorescent creating a flash between approximately 300-700 lumens, and/or a chemical irritant, such as capsaicin. The nose of the ballistic comprises an energy-absorbing cavity and a switch preventing detonation of the ballistic on impact. No shrapnel is created on detonation.
 The present invention is also of a less-than-lethal ballistic comprising a concussion element, a phosphorescent, and a chemical irritant.
 The present invention is further of a less-than-lethal ballistic for grenade launchers comprising a nose comprising an energy-absorbing cavity and a switch preventing detonation of the ballistic on impact.
 A primary object of the present invention is to provide a less-than-lethal ballistic for law enforcement applications.
 A primary advantage of the present invention is that it can be used to immobilize a suspect at distances up to 100 meters (or greater with less accuracy) without actually hitting the suspect and causing serious injury or death.
 Other objects, advantages and novel features, and further scope of applicability of the present invention will be set forth in part in the detailed description to follow, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.
 The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated into and form a part of the specification, illustrate several embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. The drawings are only for the purpose of illustrating a preferred embodiment of the invention and are not to be construed as limiting the invention. In the drawings:
 FIGS. 1(a)-(d) are side, side section, end, and end section views of the preferred infrared or acoustic triggered ballistic of the invention;
 FIGS. 2(a)-(c) are side, side section, and end views of the preferred filament ignition wire triggered ballistic of the invention; and
FIG. 3 is a side section view of the preferred radar triggered ballistic of the invention.
 The present invention is of a less-than-lethal ballistic not requiring impact on a suspect. The ballistic is designed to detonate at close proximity to a suspect. This creates an “area-of-effect” ballistic that does not require direct impact on the suspect, thereby greatly reducing the risk of serious injury or death. The ballistic attacks the sensory system of the suspect, namely sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Each of these senses is preferably simultaneously attacked, with the object that the nervous system is overwhelmed, thereby causing disorientation, nausea, and a temporary shutdown of the nervous system.
 Different embodiments may be employed that are tailored to different tactical situations. The preferred embodiments include:
 1. An infrared system that combines a sensor inside the ballistic that detonates the ballistic when it intersects an infrared beam. (See FIG. 1.)
 2. An acoustic system that combines a photo-cell sensor inside the ballistic that detonates the ballistic when it intersects a series of sound waves. (See FIG. 1.)
 3. An electronic system that uses a set of thin wires that are attached to the ballistic and carry an electrical current sent from a microprocessor on the firing platform to detonate the ballistic at the desired distance. (See FIG. 2.)
 4. A radar-based ballistic incorporating a transponder preferably tracked by a radar system located on the firing platform. (See FIG. 3.)
 Additional technologies, whether available at present or in the future, can be used to detonate the ballistic of the invention.
 It is preferred that detonation of the ballistic occur in the air above or near a suspect. This has the advantage of enabling the incapacitation of the subject when hidden behind a wall or other source of cover. It also reduces the likelihood of injury. It is known that when concussive devices explode on the ground, adjacent a wall, or particularly in a corner, the concussive effect can be amplified and cause injury to the suspect.
 The preferred firing platforms for the ballistic of the invention are conventional M-79 and M-203 grenade launchers. The M-79 is a stand-alone unit that has been widely used by the U.S. military. The M-203 can be attached to a shotgun or assault rifle. The firing platform preferably comes equipped with a laser range-finder such as commonly used for hunting wildlife. The preferred caliber of the ballistic is 37.5-40 mm, conforming to presently available firing platforms. Additional platforms include the German-made Granatpistole and the American-made Mk 19 Model 3 automatic grenade launcher. The M-79, M-203, and Granatpistole all have effective firing ranges up to 350-400 meters. The vehicle-mounted Mk 19 has an effective range of 1,600 meters.
 An especially preferred launch platform for radar-triggered ballistics comprises a 40 mm launcher with an electronics package that is surface mounted on the launcher. The electronics package preferably comprises an optical rangefinder, 286 or better microprocessor, LED display, small radar system and a radio transmitter.
 The radar system preferably operates in the 76 to 77 GHz range and has a beam width of 30 degrees. The benefit of operating at 76 to 77 GHz is that most collision-avoidance radars currently being installed in vehicles operate in this frequency range. In addition, the 30-degree beam width for the radar antenna allows the system to easily track a transponder in the ballistic without altering the orientation of the firing platform to perform such a task. Operating at 76 to 77 GHz with a 30-degree beam width reduces the size of the radar antenna on the firing platform to about one inch by one inch. The total weight of the electronics package is preferably about 2½ pounds. The total weight of the launch platform is preferably about 10½ pounds.
 The especially preferred launch platform is a breakfront, single-shot design with a 24-inch barrel made of blued steel. Unlike the M-79 or M-203, the bore on the variable-range launch platform is preferably rifled with four grooves, right hand twist, although a smooth-bore barrel is possible. A standard wooden butt-stock or folding stock (to allow easier storage in patrol cars) may be employed.
 The especially preferred launch platform is designed to be operated as follows:
 (1) The operator aims the launch plafform at the target.
 (2) The distance to target is determined by the range finder and this information is digitized and sent to the on-board microprocessor (a distance in front or behind the target can be also used if desired).
 (3) The microprocessor calculates the distance to target and the muzzle velocity of the ballistic (250 feet per second) to determine the angle of inclination to set the launch platform. This information is relayed to the operator through an LED display on the launch platform.
 (4) The operator raises the launch platform to the proper angle of inclination and then fires the ballistic.
 (5) The operator then keeps the launch platform trained on the target. This allows the range finder to continue to send digitized range information to the microprocessor to determine if there is any change in the distance to target.
 Any changes are immediately calculated by the microprocessor and can be used to change the point of initiation of the ballistic.
 (6) As the ballistic leaves the barrel, it passes over a sensor, which then turns on a transponder located near the rear of the ballistic.
 (7) The radar system located on the launch platform tracks the transponder on the ballistic. This information is sent to the microprocessor.
 (8) With information about the location of both the target and the ballistic now stored in the microprocessor, the microprocessor will determine the time necessary to send radio signal energy to an electric match, which then detonates the ballistic.
 Operation of the system requires little or no skill on the part of the operator to deliver an extremely accurate ballistic at a static target. With a modicum of training and practice, the operator should be able to accurately deliver a ballistic that detonates in close proximity to a moving target. In addition, with practice other nuances of the system such as off-setting the detonation in relation to the target to achieve greater surprise and effect should become familiar to the operator.
 The preferred effects of the ballistic are as follows: On deflagration, the ballistic preferably creates a fireball, preferably up to 2 meters in diameter, and a loud report, preferably in the range of 120-300 decibels. The ballistic preferably causes a shock wave (overpressure) to hit the suspect with from 1.8-3.0 psi of energy. Phosphorescent material in the ballistic preferably causes a bright flash blinding the suspect of between approximately 300-700 mW/cm2. In addition, the ballistic preferably deploys a chemical irritant (e.g., tear gas), most preferably capsaicin, which makes comfortable breathing difficult for the suspect. The desired total effect is to disorient the suspect to give law enforcement officers time to close in and make an arrest. The ballistic preferably comprises a fail-safe fuse mechanism for operator safety and an impact disarming system, or crush switch, that prevents the ballistic from detonating if it hits the suspect. An energy-absorbing air-pocket should also be employed in the nose to minimize injury if the ballistic hits the suspect.
 Other preferred or optional characteristics of the ballistic of the invention are as follows: The casing should be of a soft material that will liquefy upon detonation. At the same time, the casing must be strong enough to get the ballistic to the target intact. The casing material must also not leave an unwanted residue in the barrel of the firing platform. The chemical agents included cannot be volatile enough to cause serious skin burns and cannot be unstable enough to ignite when the ballistic detonates. The detonation mechanisms in the ballistic should also liquefy so as not to create potentially lethal projectiles on detonation. Phosphorescent materials in the ballistic should not be able to ignite clothing of the suspect or other surrounding matter. The ballistic can be designed to emit a high-pitched whine during travel (as with the well-known German ballistic referred to as the “Screamin' Mimie”).
 The ballistic can also be made and deployed for military uses. For example, flechettes could be spread on detonation, useful in hitting an enemy soldier around the corner of a building, behind a tree or wall, or dug into a trench or foxhole. A range of additional ballistics could be included to deploy smoke, incendiaries (with or without metal-piercing ballistic noses), flares, and the like. Of course, the less-than-lethal embodiments of the ballistic have application in military contexts where capture of an enemy soldier is desired, such as peacekeeping operations.
 Referring to the figures, FIGS. 1(a)-(d) are side, side section, end, and end section views of the preferred infrared or acoustic triggered ballistic 10 of the invention. It preferably comprises the following components: tearing agent or smoke powder pack 11, dispersing charge 12, flash/concussion powder pack 13, fuse igniting sensor strips 14, propellant 15, propellant primer 16, shell casing 17, electrically-ignitable fusing 18, center fusing 19, energy-absorbing air-pocket/switch cavity 20, and energy-absorbing nose/switch 21.
 FIGS. 2(a)-(c) are side, side section, and end views of the preferred filament ignition wire triggered ballistic 30 of the invention. It preferably comprises the following components: tearing agent or smoke powder pack 11, dispersing charge 12, flash/concussion powder pack 13, propellant 15, propellant primer 16, shell casing 17, wadding surrounded by filament ignition wires 31, energy-absorbing air-pocket/switch cavity 20, and energy-absorbing nose/switch 21.
FIG. 3 is a side section view of the preferred radar triggered ballistic 50 of the invention. It preferably comprises the following components: ogive 101, chamber 102, parachute support 103, pusher plate 104, squib 105 (e.g., Davey fire N28F electric igniter), parachute 106, electronic package (radar-based trigger assembly with transponder) 107, shock absorber 108, seal 109, center tube 110, expelling charge 111 (e.g., 3 grams Zr/KClO4), energetic material 112 (preferably about 20 grams), M212 cartridge 113, and 38 cartridge assembly 114.
 The radar triggered, variable-range less-than-lethal ballistic of the invention is preferably 37.5 mm to 40 mm in diameter, between 7.96 inches to 9 inches long and weighs approximately 75 grams. The casing is preferably made of LAST-A-FOAM FR-6714, a rigid foam material that fractures into extremely small low-weight particles under explosive stress. The fragments rapidly undergo deceleration because of their low densities and small size. A rubber shock absorber ½ inch thick and ¼ inches in diameter and weighing less than eight grams is preferably used to protect the base of the projectile when it is launched. The shock absorber is preferably not attached to the projectile but rather trails the projectile as it leaves the barrel. Due to the light weight and shape of the rubber shock absorber, it will quickly decelerate and will not travel more than 20 meters from the point of launch.
 A M212 Assembly is preferably used to launch the radar triggered projectile of the invention. The M212 Assembly is comprised of a double-based commercial propellant in a closed brass container fabricated from a standard .38-caliber shell and ignited by a standard primer used in conventional .38-caliber shells.
 The ignited propellant builds up pressure to a point where the end of the closed brass container opens and the high pressure is released. The pressurized hot combustion produced from the burnt propellant then starts the forward acceleration of the projectile down the rifled barrel. The projectile is ejected from the barrel at a velocity of preferably approximately 250 feet per second and travels towards the intended target.
 The variable-range less-than-lethal ballistic design incorporates a transponder and radar-based tracking system along with an electronic detonation package. The projectile is preferably nine inches long and weighs approximately 75 grams. In this configuration, a transponder is located near the rear of the projectile. When the projectile leaves the barrel of the firing platform, it passes over a sensor that turns on the transponder. The transponder is then tracked by a radar system located on the firing platform. The projectile is then detonated at a predetermined distance from the target. This design means that the variability rate of the ballistic is greatly reduced.
 One concern is how to control the electronic components and energy source once the projectile is detonated. The components and energy source are preferably located near the rear of the projectile. The forward momentum of the electronic components and energy source is stopped when the expelling charge in the center tube is ignited. However, as an added safety feature, a small parachute is preferably attached to the epoxy casting containing the electronic components and energy source. The parachute automatically deploys when the projectile is detonated.
 The launch platform for the radar triggered, variable range less-than-lethal projectile preferably has a rifled barrel. Rifling obviously imparts a spin to the projectile that aids in the stability of the projectile while it is in flight. However, depending on length-to-diameter ratio of the projectiles, they may not require spinning in order to have stable flight.
 Again, the present invention provides a less-than-lethal ballistic for law enforcement applications that can be used to immobilize a suspect at distances up to 100 meters (or greater with less accuracy) without actually hitting the suspect and causing serious injury or death. A variety of “ultra-light artillery” ballistics are also enabled for military operations.
 Although the invention has been described in detail with particular reference to these preferred embodiments, other embodiments can achieve the same results. Variations and modifications of the present invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art and it is intended to cover in the appended claims all such modifications and equivalents. The entire disclosures of all references, applications, patents, and publications cited above are hereby incorporated by reference.