Chinese armed forces use crossbows at all unit levels from traffic police to the special force Snow Leopard Commando Unit of the People’s Armed Police and the People’s Liberation Army. One justification for this comes in the crossbow’s ability to stop persons carrying explosives without risk of causing detonation.
A crossbow is a type of weapon, based on the bow, consisting of a horizontal bow-like assembly mounted on a stock, that shoots projectiles called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion siege engine resembling a crossbow.
In modern times crossbows are no longer used for assassinations, but there are still some applications. For example, in the Americas, the Peruvian army (Ejército) equips some soldiers with crossbows and rope, to establish a zip-line in difficult terrain. In Brazil the CIGS (Jungle Warfare Training Center) also trains soldiers in the use of crossbows. In the United States, SAA International Ltd manufacture a 150 ft·lb crossbow-launched version of the U.S. Army type classified Launched Grapnel Hook (LGH), among other mine countermeasure solutions designed for the middle-eastern theatre. It has been successfully evaluated in Cambodia and Bosnia. It is used to probe for and detonate tripwire initiated mines and booby traps at up to 50 meters. The concept is similar to the LGH device originally only fired from a rifle, as a plastic retrieval line is attached. Reusable up to 20 times, the line can be reeled back in without exposing oneself. The device is of particular use in tactical situations where noise discipline is important.
A pistol crossbow
In Europe, British-based Barnett International supplied crossbows to Serbian forces which according to The Guardian were later used “in ambushes and as a counter-sniper weapon”, against the Kosovo Liberation Army during the Kosovo War in the areas of Pec and Djakovica, south west of Kosovo. Whitehall launched an investigation, though the department of trade and industry established that not being “on the military list” crossbows were not covered by such export regulations. Paul Beaver of Jane’s defence publications commented that, “They are not only a silent killer, they also have a psychological effect”. On 15 February 2008 Serbian Minister of Defence Dragan Sutanovac was pictured testing a Barnett crossbow during a public exercise of the Serbian army’s Special Forces in Nis, 200 km south of capital Belgrade. Special forces in both Greece and Turkey also continue to employ the crossbow. Spain’s Green Berets still use the crossbow as well
In Asia, Chinese armed forces use crossbows at all unit levels from traffic police to the special force Snow Leopard Commando Unit of the People’s Armed Police and the People’s Liberation Army. One justification for this comes in the crossbow’s ability to stop persons carrying explosives without risk of causing detonation. Furthermore, during the Xinjiang riots of July 2009, crossbows were used alongside modern military hardware to quell protestors. The Indian Navy’s Marine Commando Force were equipped until the late 1980s with crossbows supplied with cyanide-tipped bolts, as an alternative to suppressed handguns.