Shuttlecock machine-gun Russia’s new anti-riot weapon
Like their colleagues abroad, Russian riot police units are well equipped with water cannon, tear gas grenades and electric stunning devices. But international experience shows that so-called “non-lethal weapons” can be deadly after all.Tear gas can make some choke to death, while stun guns can easily cause heart arrest. Water cannon cannot be used in Russia in winter as wet protesters might suffer from hypothermia.So, Russian police are reluctant to use “non-lethal” ammunition.In 2009, the country’s Ministry of Interior conducted an open competitive tender for a pneumatic non-lethal crowd control system. The winning company produced a gun that uses 300-atmosphere pressurized air to throw plastic birdies that can stop even a physically vigorous rioter right on the spot.Gone are the times when police had to hide behind riot shields as enraged street fighters showered them with rocks and pieces of tarmac. Because a pneumatic shuttlecock machine-gun easily tames anybody’s ardor.The pneumatic machine gun uses a 22-millimeter-diameter, 4.8-gram shuttlecock as its primary weapon. It weights the same as a bullet but doesn’t fly as fast, and has a much wider hitting surface. The projectile can be loaded with paint to mark malicious troublemakers or simply make it extra heavy, by up to 30 grams more, for additional stopping power.
A standard shot with a basic plastic birdie could be compared to a “flick of father’s belt”, the gun’s creators say, while an extra heavy hit strikes like a horse’s kick.The “Birdiethrower” can make one sniper shot per second at 50-meter accuracy range. The computer system that operates the gun calculates its power in accordance with the distance to the target: if the person gets closer – the computer downgrades the gun’s power so as not to cripple him or her.Operating the gun may seem like a videogame, but the operator will bear responsibility for every shot he makes: the system makes a video record of everything it does. The pneumatic machine-gun is assembled on a standard Tiger armored vehicle and is operated by one man plus the driver of the vehicle.
Could the shuttlecock machine-gun be deadly? No, say the gun’s creators. They confess that while adjusting the system they had to perform an experiment on living pigs, one of which eventually died of multiple strikes. This death in the name of public order helped write a program that adjusts the power of the gun and now it is safe to use.Still, although the “Birdiethrower” may be safer than tear gas and stun guns, getting a 300-atmosphere propelled plastic birdie in the forehead would be an unpleasant experience for anyone.