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USAF cops seek netflinger rifle to down ultralights, paragliders

'Non-lethal' - until you hit the ground, anyway

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The US Air Force security police have issued a requirement for a portable net-throwing gun able to bring down parachutists or people in motorised hang-gliders - apparently without killing them.

The Security Forces Center, responsible for equipping the USAF's security police, refers to the proposed tangler-gun as a Counter UltraLight Aircraft/Paratrooper System (CULAPS)*. The American airbase plods, often responsible for perimeter guard duties, describe the weapon thus:

This is a non-lethal weapon utilizing net launching technology ... The CULAPS system is envisaged as a lightweight net aimed and fired from the ground that envelopes the target and thereby removes the target's lift bringing it to the ground. The system should be lightweight (man/vehicle portable) and have an effective vertical range of greater than 500 feet. An attribute of the system should include the potential for linking the firing system to a sensor system for automated remote operation.

Likely targets would seem to include intruders trying to get over airbase fences using ultralights (basically motorised hang gliders) and parachutes, or perhaps paramotors (where a person hanging beneath a paraglider canopy is propelled by a motorised backpack airscrew). Indeed, it may be that the USAF coppers are worried about miscreants mounted in dunebuggy/paramotor combo "flying cars", of the sort now being used in an expedition to Timbuctoo (Timbuktu, Tombouctou, potayto, potahto).

Of course, one might simply blast such an unwelcome visitor out of the sky with antiaircraft cannon, frikkin laser beam or some such robust response. However, beard'n'sandal granola-wing protest groups in America or allied nations are probably at least as significant a threat here as bomb-hurling or kamikaze missions by extreme-sports aficionado (extremist sports?) terrorists. Hence the obvious desire for a "non-lethal" option.

What isn't clear, of course, is whether non-lethal is meant simply in the sense "we didn't kill him, Isaac Newton did". It seems unlikely that an ultralight/paramotor-mounted opponent, with canopy or wings collapsed by a tightening net, would survive the subsequent plunge from 500 feet.

It's all very puzzling. ®

*Dreadful. Rapid-Ejection Tangler Interdiction versus Aerial Raiding Undesirables System (RETIARUS), shurely?

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