SideArm prototype catches full-size unmanned aerial system flying at full speed

Issue No. 4 | February 16-28, 2017

Few scenes capture the US Navy’s prowess as effectively as the rapidfire take-off and recovery of combat jets from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The ability to carry air power anywhere in the world, and both launch those aircraft to flight speed and bring them to a stop over extremely short distances has been essential to carriers’ decades-long dominance of naval warfare.

To help provide similar capabilities — minus the 90,000-tonne carriers — to US military units around the world, DARPA’s SideArm research effort seeks to create a self-contained, portable apparatus able to horizontally launch and retrieve unmanned aerial systems (UAS) of up to 900 pounds.