14 Novembre 2023

FN Herstal goes one step further in securing the use of kinetic energy less lethal launchers

At Milipol Paris 2023, the FN Herstal FN 303 launcher and projectiles provide a powerful deterrent with an enhanced safety system

About twenty years ago, Belgian firearms manufacturer FN Herstal entered the field of less lethal equipment in response to a US Army requirement. Since then, the company has been designing, manufacturing and marketing less lethal equipment and selling it to military, law enforcement and security forces across the globe.

FN Herstal has made its mark in less lethal equipment, specifically with its FN 303 kinetic energy launchers and projectiles. The FN 303 launcher and its projectiles deliver energy similar to a baton strike at distances beyond the range of hand-thrown missiles. The impact of the projectiles, which are also available with marking or irritant secondary effects, is highly dissuasive, according to the company.

While the semi-auto trigger and magazine that hold 15 projectiles allow for the rapid firing of multiple shots, several features to optimise safety are included in both the projectiles and the launcher. Specifically, the projectiles are designed to break up on impact to avoid penetrating injuries, abrasions, and ricochets while the projectile mass is made of non-toxic bismuth. Projectiles are propelled by compressed air, which means they do not cause any kind of pyrotechnic effect of flash, or flame.

All less lethal systems that use kinetic energy must transfer sufficient energy to be effective in strikes to the torso, or the extremities. However, this level of energy is potentially dangerous if the projectile hits someone in the head area and avoiding impacts to the head is a major concern for the forces that deploy this kind of launcher.

The FN 303 system ensures safety through accuracy, making sure that projectiles hit where they are aimed with accuracy to at least 30m, while users are trained to never aim at the head. However, things do not always go as planned, especially as the FN 303 is often deployed in stressful situations. There may be unpredictable movement, which can cause confusion and create the risk of the launcher being fired at someone’s head, even if this was not the intention.

To drastically reduce risks of inflicting severe injury, FN Herstal has developed the FN Smart ProtectoR system. Comprised of several advanced technologies, including an image processing camera, software and electronics, the system diminishes the risk of inadvertent headshots when using the FN 303 Tactical.

The FN Smart ProtectoR incorporates several advanced technologies to improve the safety of the FN 303. A camera captures images of the situation in front of the launcher and these images are processed in real time. If the launcher is aligned so that a projectile is likely to hit the head, the FN Smart ProtectoR emits an audible and visual warning for the user to adjust his aim. At the same time an electromechanical impulse blocks the trigger mechanism momentarily, so even if the trigger is pulled, the launcher will not fire until it is aimed at a safe area.

The FN Smart ProtectoR can also record sound and images that can be used to provide valuable data for after-action reviews, or judicial investigations. Moreover, it provides a training mode that allows users to improve their skills by firing at paper targets without using projectiles. The results can be transmitted to a smartphone along with an analysis of the shooter’s skill. This allows users to improve their abilities and leads to safer and more effective use of the FN 303 Tactical during interventions.

Hall 5A / Stand H042