US Department of Defense demonstrates pink plastic streamers that look like SILLY STRING to bring down unmanned drones
- US military tested a drone interceptor that fires ‘strong, stringy streamers’ at enemy drones
- The yarn-like substance entangles the drone’s propellers, ‘losing propulsion’
- The technology causes little collateral damage and can be used in populated areas
- The interceptors are inexpensive and reusable, and can be mass-launched to face multiple threats
As drones become an increasingly important part of modern warfare, armed forces are coming up with creative ways to take them out.
The US military recently demonstrated a drone interceptor that fires pink ‘Silly String’-esque streamers at unmanned crafts, tapes their rotors and sends them crashing down to Earth.
The goal is to devise anti-drone technology that wouldn’t cause as much collateral damage as explosives, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and would be used in populated areas.
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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently tested a drone interceptor that fires yarn-like fibers at a drone to disable it, rather than blasting it out of the sky with explosives.
DARPA began developing the interceptor, known as Counter-Unmanned Air System (C-UAS), four years ago as a means of stopping small self-guided unmanned aerial vehicles without the kind of major collateral damage caused by gunfire or explosives.
In a video posted this week, DARPA demonstrated C-UAS at Eglin Air Force Base outside Valparaiso, Florida.
After being launched from a stationary vehicle, the interceptor targeted a drone hovering over a field, “using a newly developed X-band radar that automatically detects and identifies threats from unmanned aerial systems.”
The interceptor then fired what DARPA calls “strong, stringy streamers” at the enemy drone’s propellers, “losing propulsion.”
The C-UAS launches a volley of stringy pink streamers at the drone, tethering the rotors and causing a ‘loss of propulsion’
Although the video of the demo only shows the action from a distance, it is still possible to see the drone shrouded in a pink cloud before falling to the ground.
It’s not clear what the “streamers” are made of, but DARPA indicated that the interceptors are inexpensive, reusable, and can be mass-launched to counter multiple threats.
Conventional drone interceptors are armed with explosives, but C-UAS can be used to protect a military convoy moving through a populated area with less risk.
Drone crashes to Earth without the extensive collateral damage caused by typical explosive drone interceptors
“As we focused on protecting mobile assets, the program emphasized solutions with a small footprint in terms of size, weight and strength,” said Gregory Avicola, director of DARPA’s Mobile Force Protection program. “This also makes for more affordable systems and fewer operators.”
The device was developed by Dynetics, a military contractor who also recently unveiled Durable shield, a mobile ground weapons system designed to defeat “unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and missiles, artillery and mortars.”
The interceptor is intended to be launched from the back of a small, fast-moving vehicle
The Mobile Forces Protection program, which DARPA has shut down, demonstrated other non-explosive drone interceptors at Eglin AFB, but did not share any details or footage.
In May, a UN report indicated that autonomous drones may have attacked humans for the first time last year during a skirmish between the Libyan government and rebels.
It is reported that Kargu-2 quadcopter drones were deployed in March 2020, using their built-in cameras and AI to find and target enemies retreating from Tripoli.
The drones then struck the fighters kamikaze-style, detonating their explosive charge on impact.
No deaths have been confirmed, but similar systems have claimed “significant casualties” in other encounters, according to the report by the UN Security Council’s expert panel on Libya.