American DARPA reports partial success of the SideArm project, dedicated to quick launch and, more importantly, instant landing of bulky military drones on any suitable patch. In the latest experiment, a 181-kilogram Lockheed Martin Fury was caught in the network, and in the future, the system will be able to serve drones weighing up to half a ton.
Launching aircraft from a catapult with a minimum take-off run is the day before yesterday. As well as landing with an aerofiner, however, in both cases, there remains a strong need for a spacious deck. SideArm authors proposed to fix the braking cable and fishing net on a single, portable compact mast. A kind of butterfly net - large and heavy.
The off-set UAV models with SideArm take off normally, using a short-stroke catapult. When landing, it transforms into a brake with a hook, which dampens the speed of the drone, flips it in the air and literally lowers it into the finishing net. Minimum overload and mechanical damage - engineers are extremely satisfied with the reliability of their design.
The dimensions of the SideArm system are adapted to a typical shipping container, so it can be mounted on a ship where there is physically no room for arranging a take-off deck. Or on the chassis of a light truck, on board 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 right on the front line, in a short time.
The biggest plus of the SideArm system is its versatility, the concept of placing a catapult on "any naval unit" is implemented here without costly and complex upgrades. Minus - this is just a project and now DARPA needs partners who would be engaged in the production of SideArm and adaptation to current models of military drones.