US Army Patents "Net Warhead" To Combat Drones

A team of Army researchers has designed a 40mm grenade round with a net embedded inside the warhead to take down enemy unmanned aerial vehicles, according to patent number 10,197,365.

The new, high-tech round, which was patented on Tuesday, brings an entirely new approach for the Army to combat the proliferation of drones on the modern battlefield.

The "net warhead" was invented by Tomasz Blyskal, Richard Fong, and LaMar Thompson of the Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. The round is designed to ensnare the propellors of a drone rather than using expensive electronic or kinetic countermeasures.

“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.

Here is how the round works:

More importantly, the new round is compatible with the M320 Grenade Launcher Module that can be mounted on the standard issue M4 carbine and M16 rifle.

*Pic of rifles

Initial testing showed the round outperforms other net-centric counter-drone weapons like pulling a net from another larger drone, according to the Army, because that requires trained pilots and does not work in countering drone swarms.

Army commanders and civilian officials have expressed concerns over the increased availability of small drones to the public.

Last month, the Newark Liberty International Airport experienced delays after two commercial airline pilots spotted a drone in the airspace. Moreover, drone sightings at London’s Gatwick Airport, UK’s second largest airport, in December, caused the airport to shut down for several days.

Army officials are preparing tactics, techniques, and procedures for field units to counter drones on the modern battlefield. The use of conventional surface-to-air weapons like shoulder-fired rocket launchers designed to take out aircraft and tanks might be an expensive overkill against drones that can easily be purchased online.