Feeds

'Angry Bird' netflinger projectile brings down drug ultralights

US airforce boffins battle robot smugglers

Build a business case: developing custom apps

US air force boffins have developed a net-flinging weapon dubbed "Angry Bird", for the purpose of bringing down drug-smuggling ultralight aircraft crossing the Mexican border without using lethal force.

Aviation Week reports on the remarkable development, which was achieved as part of the 2011 Commander's Challenge competition held by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The teams competing in the challenge were set the problem of bringing down ultralights without harm to the occupants, as would be required in a law-enforcement rather than a military scenario.

Success in developing the necessary non- or less-lethal weaponry was judged – as one really should expect – by obtaining a small fleet of robotic unmanned ultralights and trying out the competing weapons on them in flight.

According to Av Week's report, two teams of airforce boffins competed. One, from Eglin airbase in Florida, developed the Angry Bird, which can be shot from a standard 40mm grenade launcher (either handheld or helicopter-mounted). It deploys a net which can tangle up the propellor of a fleeing ultralight at ranges up to 1,000 feet, so forcing the machine to land.

The second team, from Wright-Patterson airbase in Ohio, built an unnamed drone which pursues an ultralight and rams itself into the propellor under camera guidance, similarly forcing a landing. Apparently this method performed better in tests, vanquishing the Angry Bird and sending the prize to Ohio.

Reportedly no less than eight robotised ultralights were supplied by contractor Brock Technologies for use as targets in the competition, which took place over recent weeks at Edwards airbase in California.

The competition wasn't just a big boffins' lark, apparently, as the AFRL told Av Week that technologies from both teams will be incorporated into an operational ultralight-stopper which will be handed over to the US Border Patrol.

Regular Reg readers will no doubt recall that this isn't the first effort along these lines by the US air force: they, like us, will be recalling the poorly named CULAPS ultralight/paraglider-nobbling netflinger rifle of 2009, initiated by the air force security police for use in guarding military bases against fabric-winged intruders. (At the time we suggested the designator Rapid-Ejection Tangler Interdiction versus Aerial Raiding Intruder Undesirables System – RETIARIUS). ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Thirteen Astonishing True Facts You Never Knew About SCREWS
Threaderick the Great! And YES, we asked the Arapaho
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN
Big cat causes big trouble at Mumbai college
Too rich for an iPhone 6? How about a gold-plated Brikk?
Not lobbed at your head, silly – a bling phone
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.