‘Enemy uses net-launching drones to hunt drones’ – Ukraine

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In Russia, a new counter-UAV system has been showcased using a quadcopter equipped to combat drones by launching a net at them. This innovative system, known as “Netcomet,” offers a safer alternative to the typical ramming tactics often seen during drone encounters. Netcomet is particularly effective against Mavic-type quadcopters. 

Although it appears to be the product of individual “enthusiasts” in Russia, this innovation warrants careful consideration. There is potential for such systems to be incorporated into the Russian military’s toolkit. 

What makes this especially intriguing is that Netcomet isn’t a specialized drone but an attachment for a standard Mavic drone, activated by a simple backlight switch. This means virtually any drone can be equipped with this system.

Video screenshot

It’s worth mentioning that using nets to combat quadcopters was likely one of the earliest methods tried once these drones became widespread. However, this technique remains just one of several options and hasn’t emerged as the ultimate solution. Over time, alternative methods like ground-based “cannons,” interceptor drones, and aerial trawls have also been developed. 

Furthermore, in the original video showcasing a drone equipped with the “Netcomet” system, it’s highlighted that there’s a significant risk of “friendly fire.” This means that such operations need to be conducted in close coordination with nearby units. Additionally, operating this system requires specialized skills, making it advisable to delegate its use to a dedicated UAV team. 

Drone catchers by launching nets are a type of counter-drone technology designed to intercept and neutralize unauthorized or hostile drones. These systems typically employ a net-launching mechanism to physically capture the target drone mid-air, preventing it from completing its mission or causing harm.

Video screenshot

The principle of operation for these drone catchers involves detecting and tracking the target drone using radar, optical sensors, or other tracking technologies. Once the target is identified and locked onto, the system launches a net, either from a ground-based launcher or from another drone, to ensnare the target. The net can be deployed using compressed air, spring mechanisms, or even small explosive charges to ensure rapid and accurate deployment. 

Upon successful capture, the net entangles the drone’s propellers and other critical components, rendering it unable to fly. Some systems are designed to bring the captured drone safely to the ground, while others may allow the net and drone to fall together. This method is particularly advantageous in urban environments or sensitive areas where traditional kinetic countermeasures might pose a risk to people or infrastructure. 

Several countries are actively developing and deploying drone-catching technologies. The United States has been at the forefront, with various defense contractors and tech companies working on sophisticated net-launching systems. The Netherlands has also explored innovative approaches, including training eagles to intercept drones, although this method has seen limited practical deployment.

Photo credit: Delft Dynamics

Japan has invested in drone-catching technologies, particularly for securing large public events and critical infrastructure. The Japanese police have used net-wielding drones to capture rogue drones during high-profile events. Similarly, the United Kingdom has developed systems for both military and civilian applications, focusing on protecting airports and other sensitive locations from drone incursions. 

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