This post originally appeared on Business Insider by Eloise Lee.
The Army is working on a getting a warhead that sounds like "peak absurdity," says Spencer Ackerman at Danger Room.
This is the recipe for peak absurdity in weapons design. One part bazooka round; one part suicidal drone; one part stun round. What the U.S. Army hopes will emerge from that mix is a warhead that can loiter in midair while it hunts a human target — but won’t kill him when it finds him.
The "Nonlethal Warhead for Miniature Organic Precision Munitions" is described as a "magic bullet" in the Army's official quest to find a small business that will make this little gem a reality.
The 3-pound warhead is part of a wider system of miniature aerial munition, which would usually be in the business of killing. The Army is interested in a nonlethal adaption that can "acquire a man-size target at the system’s combat range, in less than 20 seconds."
The weapon would then quietly hover over the target up to 100 meters in the air, while sending back highly valuable information to troops. Using Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance technology the warhead would acquire GPS coordinates and video information that zones in on the target to provide feature recognition. Bingo.
At this point, it's unclear what the warhead does next. Even if it's not lethal, it should do something to apprehend the target, such as by stunning or temporarily blinding.
The Army is leaving researchers to use their imaginations.
Ackerman points out the Army advises potential contractors to consider a variety of options: “mechanical, such as rubber balls; acoustic; chemical; electrical; or dazzle."
Elsewhere in the world of "smart ammunition", China says it has made a breakthrough developing a laser-equipped weapon that flies over a target zone searching for a mark. The major difference is, the China's ammo is hell-bent on destroying the target and will unleash two hits — one destructive projectile to break through armor, immediately followed by a cluster of sub-projectiles to wipe out whatever the armor was protecting.
The U.S. Army's "magic bullet" will likely have a much more delicate mission to accomplish, perhaps in aid of Human Intelligence operations which would require the target to be alive to answer troops' all-important questions.
Editor's Note: Check out this other non-lethal weapon that would be used to "fry enemy electronics" here.