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The French SAE ALSETEX company − an Étienne Lacroix Group enterprise, a leading entity in the development and manufacturing of pyrotechnics and military and defence systems − is a global top player in the field of public safety producs.
As a matter of fact, ALSETEX is one of the world's biggest providers of civil protection and defense products, civil defense pyrotechnics, installations safety, and crowd/riot control equipment, weapons, and ammunition.
So to speak, ALSETEX manufactures the COUGAR, COUGAR Vario and CHOUKA less-lethal projectors used by the French National Police and Gendarmerie, along with the related 12-gauge, 40mm and 56mm ammunition, as well as a plethora of other hand-thrown or self-propelled riot control devices with a plethora of payloads available − ranging from traumatic impact to tear gas or smoke.
The "Maintien de l'ordre" ("Public Order Enforcement") products range of ALSETEX has also found increasing acceptance within the global law enforcement community in the past years.
And the "Maintien de l'ordre" products range itself seems to be able to grow one more product, as at the 2014 edition of the EUROSATORY defense expo − held last June 16th thru 20th at the nord-Villepinte convention and exhibitions center, at the outskirts of Paris − ALSETEX showcased a new prototype launcher that was indeed one of the most interesting products of the entire show, albeit one of the least looked-after.
Dubbed the Cougar MS, the new ALSETEX prototype appears to have been developed to meet Police needs in the field of less-lethal crowd-control and scalar use of force, as well as these of counter-terrorist, tactical and military forces.
As a matter of fact, the ALSETEX Cougar MS launcher is chambered to fire NATO-standard low-velocity 40mm grenades (40x46mm-SR), which are extremely common between military units and law enforcement agencies all throughout the world.
Furthermore, the bull-pup configuration and the futuristic design provide the Cougar MS with a decisive deterrent look, and make it comfortable and handy to transport and operate for high-mobility units.
Should the final model make extensive use of high-impact synthetic materials in its construction, just like the prototype, then the ALSETEX Cougar MS will also qualify as one of the lightest, if not the lightest, multi-shot grenade launchers on the market.
And even more: the ALSETEX Cougar MS launcher would appear, at a first sight, to follow the "inspiring philosophy" or "principles" of some of the most modern grenade launchers developed for asymmetric warfare operations in the past years − think about the US-made ATK XM-25 ISAAS or the South-African PAW-20 "Neopup" − but without their drawbacks: no heavy, cumbersome, complicated integrated aiming device here, and no proprietary caliber.
The ALSETEX Cougar MS grenade launcher sports a top MIL-STD-1913 "Picatinny" rail that will accept any kind of commercial or military sighting system for the task at hand; a shorter Picatinny rail is located under the handguard, providing an attachment point for foregrips or other tactical accessories.
In order to keep the system as simple as possible to maintain and operate, the ALSETEX engineers stripped the Cougar MS of any gas-operated, blowback-operated or recoil-operated system.
The ALSETEX Cougar MS is a manually-operated launcher: an ambidextrous charging handle, located right under the top Picatinny rail, must be pulled all the way back and then released after each shot to eject the spent shell and chamber a new round. This makes training easier, and still allows skilled operators to shoot up to twenty 40mm grenades per minute.
The launcher feeds through a detachable, metal box magazine. The baseline magazine appears to hold up to five shells, but according to the official factory flyer for the Cougar MS, ALSETEX appears to have "high capacity" magazines available, holding probably up to six or eight shells.
The ALSETEX Cougar MS multishot grenade launcher will chamber and fire any 40x46mm-SR shell up to 135 millimetres (5.31 inches) in lenght; this means that the system may not accept exactly all the less-lethal 40mm shells available on the market, but will definitely employ all 40mm NATO low-velocity military loads, as well as the vast majority of 40x46mm-SR rounds manufactured by ALSETEX itself.
Remaining faithful to its restrictive policy regarding information disclosure − the company maintains almost no public relations at all, citing the "sensitive" nature of their products and OPSEC of their military and law enforcement customers − ALSETEX remained very secretive about any other possible detail concerning the Cougar MS, even with the all4shooters.com's field editors who visited the Company booth at the EUROSATORY expo. It's thus highly unlikely that we may hear of anything new about the ALSETEX Cougar MS until its official launch.
However, we can't deny that it looks like a promising multipurpose launching platform, whose specifics and possible (or slated) performance would deserve a deeper assay.