Due to the widespread use of drones amongst potential adversaries, the US military has developed a countermeasure against these small unmanned aerial vehicles. Army engineers from the New Jersey Research and Development Center (ARDEC) have been working on a solution. They have developed a weapon that they believe can effectively destroy enemy drones. The weapon, a 40 mm grenade, is compatible with the classic grenade launchers used by the Armed Forces.
According to the prototype, the grenade will be equipped with a net fitted with weights rather than explosives. The net will be automatically released as the projectile nears its target. This process is initiated by a built in control board. The function of the net is entangling enemy drones. This new device is certainly cheaper than previous net based systems of neutralizing drones. In the past, large drones fitted with bigger nets were used, a process that needs a trained pilot. This system can counter a swarm of drones, something that was formerly unachievable.
In recent times, terrorists have deployed drones for a variety of reasons. For instance, Taliban militants used drones to spy on a US Army base in Afghanistan in October 2017. The insurgents had also used drones to film a suicide bombing at a police station in the capital of Helmand, the biggest province in Afghanistan.
Like the Taliban, ISIS has also been using drones to add stealth into their attacks in Iraq. Most of these drones are diminutive and imprecise when used to deploy bombs. For this reason, they have been mainly used to target troops who are on the front line. In addition to terrorists, the US army also finds it challenging to counter drones owned by private citizens. Indeed, the military recently awarded SRDC a contract to take down smaller drones belonging to civilians.
The army is investing time and resources towards the research for improving drone countermeasures. The objective is to abandon expensive and risky techniques such as using explosives. They want to entirely ditch the use of surface-to-air missiles and shouldered missile launchers. The new 40 mm grenade can be used with conventional launchers, such as the M302 launcher. This however, makes it effective for only a few hundred yards. To increase the range, a more powerful launcher, such as the Mk-19, has to be used. As of now, ARDEC is working with the Department of Defense’s technology partner, TechLink, to patent this new invention.