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DARPA shows off its SideArm system catching drones mid-flight



Military-style fixed-wing drones are easy to launch, but difficult to land; DARPA aims to change that with SideArm, a portable drone-grabbing system that snatches the fast-moving craft right out of the air.

The basic concept, as suggested when SideArm was first proposed, is sort of a reversal of the classic aircraft carrier hook system.

The SideArm unit, which fits in a shipping container and can be set up and operated by 2-4 people, first launches the drone off a horizontally mounted rail catapult. When the drone is ready to land, the operators attach the grabber (no official name is mentioned) to the rail and the drone flies in directly under it.

ternconceptA hook protruding from the back of the drone snags on a line, which both slows the craft down and causes it to swing up into a waiting net, where nose barbs keep it in place.

You can see the lab tests and concept renders in this video: