The Army's new 40mm grenade round looks like it's straight out of 'The Fifth Element'

Military Tech

At least one weapons expert in the Army clearly loved The Fifth Element as a kid.

A team of Army researchers have engineered a 40mm grenade round with a net inside to take down unmanned aerial vehicles, according to a new patent issue on Tuesday.

The three researchers at the Army's Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey designed the unusual "net warhead" round to ensnare the propellors of low-flying drones rather than forcing soldiers to rely on kinetic or electronic countermeasures.

A patent drawing for a 'Scalable Effects Net Warhead'U.S. Patent Office

Rather than launching a net outright, the grenade is activated by a proximity sensor within feet of a moving target, ejecting a spinning net with significantly improved accuracy and duration compared to, say, a pair of hand-thrown bolas.

"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," the patent notes.

More importantly, the 40mm net grenade is perfectly compatible with the M302 single-shot underslung grenade launcher that's a frequent addition to the standard issue M4 carbine an M16 assault rifle, as well as the Mk 19 belt-fed grenade launcher.

A patent drawing for a 'Scalable Effects Net Warhead'U.S. Patent Office

Nets aren't a totally new countermeasure against hostile drones. Following 2015 security scare when radioactive sand was intentionally dropped by drone onto the roof of the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office in Tokyo, Japanese police started using their own drone-mounted nets to play goalie against incoming unmanned aerial systems.

But those countermeasures require "a well-trained pilot to try to catch a much lighter, faster, and more maneuverable UAS," the researchers note, a task that is "difficult at best." Adding a specially-engineered launcher to an infantry weapons system, they found, greatly boosted the accuracy and effectiveness of any net-based counter-UAS measures.

No word yet on whether the Army plans on contracting with Zorg Enterprises for any future net warhead requirements:

Read the patent below:

SEE ALSO: That Time The Army Nearly Replaced The M16 With The Pulse Rifle From 'Demolition Man'

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