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Disabling small, unmanned drones, which are now widely available to the public, is a problem for civilian officials and military commanders. Major delays caused by unauthorized drones at London’s Gatwick Airport in December 2018 is only one example.
A new recently-patented invention brings high-tech engineering to the tried-and-true grenade launchers common among U.S. military and law enforcement units. U.S. Army researchers have packed a net into a 40mm grenade so they can take down enemy drones. “As the round nears the target, a signal from a control board activates a servo. The servo pulls on a central lock plunger to release a ball mechanism. This releases the ogive section, which in turn allows the ejection spring means to eject the petals and weights along with the net stowed there within,” according to the patent.
Initial testing showed that the round outperforms other net-centric counter-drone tactics like dragging a net from another larger drone, according to the Army, because that requires trained pilots and doesn’t work when trying to “ensnare many, or swarms of drones.”
Army officials are preparing tactics, techniques, and procedures for field units that encounter such drones. Using conventional surface-to-air weapons like shoulder-fired missiles designed to target piloted aircraft may be overkill and are relatively expensive.
But small, mobile ground units already include grenadiers equipped with M302 launchers who could easily carry dozens of the new 40mm rounds to take out small drones, according to Cavalry units, anti-tank sections, and heavy weapons companies that employ the Mk-19 grenade launcher could also use the new round from even greater distances.