USA

Navy developing flying ‘rubber octopus’ to thwart terror attacks

The Navy looked to the sea for inspiration as it developed two new anti-terror weapons — a pneumatically-launched “rubber octopus” and an artificial “hagfish slime.”

Both inventions would let the Navy temporarily stop a suspicious approaching boat or jet ski without causing loss of life, an improvement over shooting first and asking questions later.

The nautical-themed gizmos were reported in Forbes.

The rubber octopus, designed to stop enemy jet-skis and other water-jet propelled craft, consists of a head with numerous tentacles, each two to three inches across and several feet long.

It would be shot into the air by a pneumatic launcher — something like a T-shirt gun.

And while the disturbing sight of an incoming, flying rubber octopus might be enough to give many would-be terrorists pause, the device has a practical application once it hits the water.

Its floating tentacles would get sucked into the craft’s intake jets.

It would stop “any water jet propelled craft,” such as a et ski, “by disrupting the water suction and thereby reducing the generated thrust,” according the Navy’s 2019 patent application.

Should the approaching jet ski prove friend, not foe, the tentacles can be removed without damage to the craft.

As an alternative to air-launched rubber octopi, large numbers the gadgets can be set out as a floating barrier around a ship.

The Navy’s other sea-themed invention is inspired by the hagfish, an eel-like creature that, when attacked, emits a dense cloud of slime.

A depiction of the Maritime Vessel Stopping Occlusion Technology being developed by the US Navy
A depiction of the Maritime Vessel Stopping Occlusion Technology being developed by the US Navy.NAVSEA

The mucus nimbus confuses — and perhaps disgusts — the predator long enough for the hagfish to slip away.

The Navy’s synthetic version of hagfish slime — dubbed “Vessel Stopping Occlusion Technology — would briefly stop a suspicious approaching boat from moving, then disappear with no environmental impact, Forbes said.

The slime and the octopus may prove handy in so-called “grey zones” where tensions are high, but there’s no outright war, including in the Persian Gulf and South China Sea, Forbes noted.

An approaching boat — laden with bombs — was responsible for the 2000 explosion that killed 17 sailors on board the USS Cole.

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