When I first saw this I thought, “you gotta be kidding me”. That set aside it appears they are not.
If you are familiar with AWACS and ICBM let me familirize you with another acronym: CULAPS which stands for Counter Ultra Light Aircraft/Paratrooper System. The U.S. government is seeking information on the design of a non-lethal system that utilizes a net to bring down an ultralight from a height of 500 feet. The system should be capable of being mounted on a vehicle or carried by a person. The intent of the system is to have the solider fire the net at the ultralight/skydiver and have it bring the aircraft/person safely to the ground without any injury. Designing the system is probably feasable. Sounds easy enought to shoot a net through the sky. You see it in the movies all the time. Though I am not so sure about the non-lethal requirement.
Imagine if you will for a moment that your flying your ultralight trike at 500 AGL and you manage to become disoriented and lose your position. Well not likely since most of fly with our GPS on aboard? Just for the purpose of this hypothisis lets say you forgot to charge your GPS or you hit a bird and it disables your GPS (no damage to your aircraft, not yet anyways). Without correct orientation you find yourself flying over a fenced in military base. All of a sudden you see a Humvee pacing below you. OK, these guys think your a member of Al-queada or some other hard-core terrorist organization heading straight towards their ammo supply. They target their CULAPS to your aircraft and fire. The net explodes towards your aircraft and wraps up your entire aircraft before gently bringing it to the ground. NOT!
At what speed must the net must travel so that it intercepts the target. If the aircraft is traveling away from you then the net must travel faster than the aircraft. If the net only has a range of 500 feet then the net would have to travel a lot faster. If the cruising speed of an ultralight trike is 50 mph then it’s safe to assume that the speed of the net would need to be going faster than 100 mph.
What if the trike is traveling towards you at 50 mph an the 100 mph net hits your aircraft headon with a vector force of 150 mph. One can only imagine what the resulting impact would be. Maybe we should take these great military minds and make them executives at AIG, … couldn’t hurt.
Good luck on testing this system. Maybe we should take some of those drug smugglers caught slipping over the Mexican-US border in their ultralight, give them back their ultralight and tell them home is just on the other side of the military base.
For those of you who are smarter than me and can figure this one out, here is the actual request for information from the government web site.
Lackland AFB, Texas 78236-5253
1517 Billy Mitchell Blvd, Bldg 954
Lackland AFB, TX 78236-0119
San Antonio, Texas 78236