American DARPA reports on the partial success of the SideArm project, dedicated to the rapid launch and, more importantly, the instant landing of bulky military drones on any suitable patch. In the last experiment, a 181 kilogram Lockheed Martin Fury was caught in the network, and in the future the system will be able to service drones weighing up to half a ton.
The launch of flying equipment from the catapult with a minimum take-off takeoff is the day before yesterday. As well as landing with an airfighter, however in both cases there is a strict need for a spacious deck. The authors of SideArm proposed to fix the braking cable and the trap network on a single, portable compact mast. A kind of net for butterflies – large and heavy.
The take-off of different models of UAVs with SideArm takes place regularly, with the help of a catapult with a short stroke. When landing, it is transformed into a brake with a hook, which extinguishes the speed of the drone, turns it in the air and literally drops it into the finish line. Minimum overloads and mechanical damages – engineers are extremely pleased with the reliability of their development.
The dimensions of the SideArm system are adapted to the typical transport container, so it can be mounted on a ship where there is not physically a place for arranging the take-off deck. Or on the chassis of a light truck, aboard a submarine, on a railway platform, etc. The service team has only 2-4 people who will be able to deploy and operate the system directly on the front line, in a short time.
The biggest plus of the SideArm system in its versatility, here is the concept of catapult placement on “any sea unit” without costly and complex modernization. The minus is just a project and now DARPA needs partners who would be engaged in the production of SideArm and adaptation for the current models of military drones.