US weapons research is raising a stink

The US army’s xm1063 projectile is designed to be ‘non-lethal’ – but is it peaceful or hovering on the brink of illegality?
US weapons research is raising a stinkfrom guardian: Is the XM1063 a stink bomb, a banana skin, or a bad trip? It’s hard to know. XM1063 is the code name for the US army’s new secret weapon which will “suppress” people without harming them, as well as stopping vehicles in an area 100m square. But is it a violation of chemical weapons treaties, or a welcome move towards less destructive warfare using non-lethal weapons?

Exactly how it works is classified, but we have established some details. The first part of the weapon is an artillery round – or as the army puts it, “a non-lethal personal suppression projectile” – fired from a 155mm howitzer, with a range of 28km. It scatters 152 small non-explosive submunitions over a 1-hectare area; as each parachutes down, it sprays a chemical agent. Development was overseen by the US Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Centre (Ardec).

A presentation by the makers, General Dynamics, says the XM1063 will “suppress, disperse or engage personnel” and “deny personnel access to, use of, or movement through a particular area, point or facility” (Xkb pdf).