The Army recently contracted with PepperBall to purchase the VKS launcher.

The Army recently awarded a $650,000 contract to purchase a new non-lethal weapon that launches paintball-like projectiles that irritate and deter potential aggressors.

The Variable Kinetic System, made by PepperBall Technologies was purchased for troops in Afghanistan, according to a company release.

The weapon has the same controls and ergonomics of the M4/M16 weapons system, so muscle memory training is the same for soldiers who carry those weapons, which is practically everyone in the Army.

The launcher has a dual feed system, so a shooter can switch the selector knob between “hopper mode” and “magazine mode” to increase ammunition capacity.

The hopper holds up to 180 rounds and has the same design as a common paintball gun, with a large basin holding the projectiles. The magazine can hold 10 to 15 rounds for more compact carry.

The Army purchased 267 units which have since been delivered and are being used in training, according to PepperBall spokesman Jonathan Harling.

The projectiles are effective to 50 yards, or half a football field length, providing short-range standoff for soldiers in riot control situations.

The PepperBall specific projectiles fire an irritant that bursts upon impact, according to the release. It leaves a “debilitating cloud” that effects the eyes, nose and respiratory system.

As of press time a company official did not have exact quantities or delivery dates available.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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