Terrorism as a method of unscrupulous political game has been used since ancient times, though not always under that name. Scholars and historians may trace its origins somewhere in the dawn of recorded history of human civilization. Similarly, from time to time some of the official politicians are announcing the “elimination of the terrorist threat”. But the practice shows that we, as well as our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will still live in the time of terrorists. So, the technical means to combat terrorist threats will remain in demand as well.
Specialists break down counterterrorism means into three conventional groups. The first includes means of active defense, such as firearms, the so-called non-lethal weapons (gas, electric shock, traumatic, and so on), all kinds of operational gear – batons, handcuffs, as well as various equipment – laser and optical sights, night vision devices.
The second group includes means of passive and engineering protection. These are personal protective equipment (vests, helmets), armored vehicles, bullet-proof and explosion-proof structures, means for transporting explosives and devices: different containers, chambers, shelters and so on.
The third and the most extensive group comprises the diverse inspection and search equipment designed to prevent present and potential terrorist threats. This includes metal detectors, stationary, mobile and portable, X-ray equipment, all kinds of dose meters, gas analyzers, nuclear physics and resonance-wave devices to search for explosives. This group also includes cameras, computer means of identification and other forensic equipment.
This list shows that counterterrorism means can be used in other areas of security: from the armed forces to searching and arresting “regular” criminals, and from fighting the fire threats and other man-made disasters to rescuing people in case of natural disasters. Thus, a significant portion of operational gear can be attributed to the dual-use items, except, perhaps, firearms – from service pistols to rifles with telescopic sights.
Made in Russia
The samples of counterterrorism means of the first group (active) include, for example, pistols SR-1 Gyurza capable of piercing a 4 mm thick steel sheet at a range of up to 30 meters, a 7.62 mm PSS silent pistol, GSh-18, SPP-1M for underwater shooting, sub-machine guns SR-2, Vityaz and Kashtan, compact assault rifle SR-3, a special AS assault rifle for noiseless firing, carbine assault rifle 9A-91, APS assault rifle for underwater shooting, VSS, VSK-94, SV-98 sniper rifles and many other types of modern Russian small arms.
Among the non-lethal weapons we may note grenade launchers to provide psycho-physiological effects and temporary incapacitate terrorists, for example, in case the latter capture vehicles or buildings. The use of GSZ40 flash grenade is able to temporarily disorient the offender. For this, a regular (combat) assault rifle with a grenade launcher is required. The creators of GSZ40 proceeded from the fact that the Russian special forces do not always have the appropriate special weapons. And in these cases it is sufficient to use the non-lethal grenade instead. However, the experience shows that in the heat of the special operation there is always a contrary temptation, to charge the non-lethal weapons with live ammunition. But here, perhaps, we can hardly blame the developers, but should rather recommend to pay more attention to special training of counterterrorism units.
There are also hand grenades with the similar non-lethal action: tear, stun, shock, with rubber buckshot and smoke effects. Thus, a flashbang splinterless hand grenade GSZ-T(TSh) may temporarily neutralize offenders via psychophysiological, distracting and mechanical effect – strong light flash, acoustic pulse with a power of 130 decibels and rubber shrapnel. But unlike similar grenades in plastic casings, it can be thrown at the same distance as a ball grenade. Developers tried not to reinvent the wheel, giving their invention the form of the traditional “pineapple” F-1.
It is worth mentioning that the “conversion” of military weapons into non-lethal ones is a long tradition of the domestic defense industry. When during the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 there was a need to urgently develop a counterterrorism non-lethal grenade launcher, it was created by Soviet specialists in a matter of three months. The Vitrina grenade launcher was a tip on the muzzle of the AK-74 assault rifle. Launch of grenades, armed with tear gas was performed using a blank shot. This “fast” development has been so successful that it has been used by special units of the KGB and the famous Alpha Group for years. However, the recoil impulse was so strong that not every shooter could hold the gun in his hands, and the rifle butt had to be pressed against the ground.
The need to quickly locate an explosive device, for example, in case of impossibility to quickly evacuate large numbers of people (from the stadium or other events) made the Russian experts to engage in new developments, as the “attachments” to Kalashnikovs would not do much in such situations. The products of the Special Materials, Corp. can be called innovative – they are blast inhibitors “Fountain”, which are currently accepted for service by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.
This device looks like a container that is able to largely suppress the high explosive, fragmentation, thermal and other devastating consequences of the explosion both in open and closed areas. Of course, it is hardly possible to completely avoid potential casualties if people will not be able to withdraw to a safe distance. But this distance will be much smaller – the “container” not only “degrades” the shock front, but also prevents a fire due to the complete suppression of the fire ball.
Another development is the protection device for checkpoints, which are necessary for conducting large-scale counterterrorist operations. The system of engineering protection “LOZA” is a rapidly deployable blockage in the form of metal frames with a mesh screen, on which the grenade fuse is triggered. With the apparent design simplicity, the system provides reliable protection of personnel from the effects of PG-7 type anti-tank grenades and all kinds of LAWs. “LOZA” removes high explosive impact on the protected objects and reduces exposure by a grenade fragments and a cumulative jet to a safe level.
As noted above, current domestic developments, including those that are in mass production, are enough to deal with all kinds of terrorism. The main thing is to ensure their availability “at the right time in the right place”, so that they would not remain in a warehouse or in the armory during the time of a special operation.