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This article is about The balloon-based recovery system. You may be looking for the Fulton trap, a weapon derived from the aforementioned recovery system..

The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS) is a system used by the United States Air Force and United States Navy for retrieving persons on the ground from a MC-130E Combat Talon I aircraft. This system was developed by inventor Robert Edison Fulton, Jr. for the CIA in the early 1950s and was first utilized by the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea ("JACK" for short).


The Fulton system involves using an overall-type harness and a self-inflating balloon which carries an attached lift line. An MC-130E engages the line with its V-shaped yoke and the individual is reeled on board. Red flags on the lift line guide the pilot during daylight recoveries; lights on the lift line are used for night recoveries. Recovery kits were designed for one and two-man recoveries. Helium is activated upon the kits being delivered, with the process taking 20 minutes. In addition, the shock of activating a Fulton balloon is less than that of a parachute opening, and the arm equipped on aircraft for Fulton recoveries is also capable of lifting as heavy an object as 500 lbs.

Use by the CIA

During the CIA's Virtuous Mission in August 1964, Naked Snake was set to use the Fulton system (and so he wears the STABO extraction harness throughout the mission) to escape from Tselinoyarsk with Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov. Snake's nickname, Jack, was also the acronym for the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea, the organization which first used the system during the Korean War, and was remarked upon by his C.O., Major Zero. However, due to the mission's failure, Snake was the only one to escape with it.

Use by the Militaires Sans Frontières

Big Boss prepares to deploy a Fulton recovery balloon.

Big Boss awaits extraction after deploying the balloon.

The Fulton recovery system was employed extensively by Big Boss's Militaires Sans Frontières in the 1970s. During the Peace Walker Incident, it was used to capture downed enemy soldiers, rescue prisoners of war, and to extract personnel from combat zones, using UH-1D/H Iroquois helicopters modified to carry a Fulton recovery hook. One of the reasons why MSF-XO Kazuhira Miller implemented a voluntary recruitment program for the MSF during the mission was to lessen the amount of Fulton recoveries, feeling that they were "heavy handed."[1]

A special sleep gas landmine, an improvised Carl Gustav recoil-less rifle, and an electromagnetic net marker were also developed to work in conjunction with the system. The landmine and Carl Gustav provided easier methods of capturing personnel while the electromagnetic net markers could be used to capture enemy land vehicles with four Fulton balloons. Supply drops were also deployed by Fulton balloon.[2] The Fulton balloons also were utilized offensively with Aerial Mines. Miller, while fighting with Big Boss around the sauna area, revealed he had a fulton recovery balloon and jokingly suggested he use it to escape.

During the MSF's deployment to Costa Rica, an unknown group also attempted to use the Fulton system, in order to extract enemy personnel. The MSF thwarted these attempts by shooting down the balloons in various so-called "Pooyan Missions."

A modified version of the Fulton recovery balloon was utilized by the MSF to send supplies to any members out in the field, with it popping once it reaches the destination of the tracer requesting supplies.

Use by the Diamond Dogs

Like the MSF before them, Diamond Dogs also used the Fulton recovery system in the 1980s to recruit soldiers and rescue hostages and scientists and put them to work at Mother Base. Upon "Big Boss's" return to Mother Base, Revolver Ocelot will give Venom Snake a Fulton Recovery pack with instructions to use it to recruit as many people as possible for the development of Mother Base. In addition, after various upgrades, they also used it to procure various crates, implanted weapons, land vehicles, supplies, and animals such as sheep and goats at the expense of GMP, even though Diamond Dogs gets reimbursed with the same amount plus a little extra from a non-governmental organization for getting those animals out of the battlefield. With regards to the crates, the Diamond Dogs could also use its ability to airlift crates to get out of a mission by hitching a ride with the crate. Unlike MSF, however, it did not use Fultons to deliver airdropped supplies, which was instead delivered via parachute. When attempting to secure the remains of the Man on Fire at the Yakho Oboo Supply Outpost, Venom Snake initially intended to use the Fulton to extract the body of the Man on Fire, although this failed due to the Man on Fire subsequently awakening and proceeding to attack Snake one last time before dying for good, with his awakening causing the balloon to explode. The Diamond Dogs utilized this form of recovery for "recruits" enough times in Afghanistan that several of the sightings were reported, causing at least one Soviet soldier to assume American CIA agents had been behind the abductions due to the Fulton recovery system being of American origin.[3] Similarly, the Diamond Dogs also used the Fulton enough times in Africa that, by the time of the PFs Zero Risk Security and Contract Forces of Africa's caravan to the Munene River to SANR, they mentioned that the area around Outpost 12 was suffering from a lot of disappearances.[4] Venom's buddies Quiet, D-Dog and D-Horse are equipped with fultons, either to extract them out of the mission area once the mission was complete (D-Horse) or otherwise to act as an emergency extraction in case they are left severely injured (all of them).

Behind the scenes

In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, there was originally to have been more illustrations demonstrating how the Fulton system was to be used, but they were cut from the final version.

The Fulton item in Portable Ops Plus.

The Fulton system, as used in Portable Ops online mode and Portable Ops Plus.

The player's squad in the online mode for Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, as well as the expansion pack, Portable Ops Plus could use the Fulton system to escape their current mission, provided that one was procured during "Infinity Mission." It cannot be used in indoor areas. The recovery balloon itself was dirigible-shaped, similar to the historical Skyhook System, while the equipment icon in Portable Ops Plus displayed a handheld radio, presumably used to call in the recovery. When first procuring the Fulton, Roy Campbell gave an auxiliary call to the player to explain its functions.[5]

"A set of equipment for making a Fulton recovery. Allows you to return safely from a mission."
―Fulton description in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus

In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the Fulton recovery system is a core gameplay mechanic, used to capture enemy soldiers or rescue POWs. To capture soldiers, they must be tranquilized, unconscious, held up, or near death before they can be attached to a recovery balloon. Unlike Portable Ops, it can be used inside buildings, and the balloon itself is spherical. Capturing soldiers at near death status will have them placed in Sickbay with [Wounds]. The limit of Fulton recoveries per mission is 100. Each time an additional recovery is performed after reaching the 100 mark, Kazuhira Miller will call in, stating that there are far too many people on board Mother Base, with sounds of commotion in the background, eventually also remarking irritably that a potential recruit fell overboard.

There are three ways to use Fulton recovery in Peace Walker:

An armored vehicle can be captured via Fulton recovery.

  • Fulton Recovery System: This equipment straps a recovery balloon to the target. R&D can increase it up to Rank 5, increasing capacity per mission. At higher ranks, items will drop from recovered soldiers.
  • Fulton Sleep Gas Mine: Upon triggering, the mine releases a sleeping gas and automatically straps a recovery balloon on any in range. Be advised that getting too close can knock Snake/MSF soldiers out.
  • Carl Gustav M2 (Fulton Recovery): This Carl Gustav rocket launcher is outfitted with Fulton recovery rounds, allowing it to capture enemies at range. Ammunition is limited though and may alert others to your presence.

The Fulton Recovery System also allows the recovery of personnel from building interiors and underground areas, although support markers do not work in these same environments.

The Extra Ops "Pooyan Missions" are based on the 1982 arcade game Pooyan, manufactured by Stern Electronics under license from Konami. Sound effects and music from the game are used throughout the missions.

Soldiers carried into the air by Fulton, as featured in Peace Walker's "Pooyan Missions."

"Personnel recovery and evacuation system.
(Rank 1) Equip and move near desired target, then press PlayStationTriangle.svg to execute recovery. (A maximum of 100 people can be recovered per mission)
(Ranks 2-3) Modified so that more can be carried. (A maximum of 100 people can be recovered per mission)
(Rank 4) Modified so that more can be carried and so that you can acquire 1 item when performing a recovery. (A maximum of 100 people can be recovered per mission)
(Rank 5) Modified so that more can be carried and so that you acquire 2 items when performing a recovery. (A maximum of 100 people can be recovered per mission)
―Fulton Recovery System description in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

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The Fulton was absent in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, although it does return in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Hideo Kojima stated that the reason he didn't include it in Ground Zeroes is because he felt it wouldn't have made sense to use a fly-by recovery in a heavily fortified base, and from a story perspective there are limited resources available to Snake due to the UN's nuclear inspection.[6] The Fulton is no longer an equipped item in The Phantom Pain. Instead, the player can simply press the Triangle button when prompted. In addition to Fultoning soldiers, the player can also use it to Fulton animals such as sheep, as well as containers and vehicles. In addition, unlike in Peace Walker, it now costs GMP to use the Fulton, with a single soldier amounting to 300 GMP. Fulton recovery also works on a percentage chance in The Phantom Pain. As well as this, the player can no longer Fulton soldiers or POWs indoors. There is also a turret that launches Fultons at enemy soldiers in Metal Gear Online 3. In addition, this iteration of the Fulton device is effective inside.

In the 2015 Gamescom game play demo for The Phantom Pain, it was revealed that there is an upgradeable version of the Fulton surface to air recovery system, called the Wormhole Extraction Device (WED). The WED was used to extract a wounded soldier from Mother Base, for the price of 300 GMP. Applying the WED has the same process and icon as the Fulton. However, the soldier is lifted into a 6 foot long orange wormhole, with fire-like sparks coming from it. The wormhole was 12 feet from the ground, and the soldier hovered in in for a few seconds before going into it, and the wormhole itself disappearing. It was stated that unlike the balloon fultons the WED cannot be shot down. However, it is suspected that while the entity is being lifted, it can still sustain damage. The device can be developed in single-player via upgrading the Fulton.

In The Phantom Pain, the player can only extract containers and soldiers either outdoors, or through a hole in the roof of the building or cave they are inside. Wormhole Extraction Device negates this and has a 100% success rate regardless of where the player is, including indoors. There are some areas such as Nova Braga Airport that have high amounts of high-quality containers (three red precious metal containers to be precise) that are indoors, meaning only Wormhole Extraction Device can extract them.

Added function for Fulton recovery device.
Enables extraction of gun emplacements and mortars.
Cargo Extraction [1]'"
―+Cargo 1 upgrade for Fulton device description in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

The Fulton was mentioned in a commercial for the Ford Focus 2016, where Solid Snake mentioned he intended to Fulton-Extract a Ford Focus after being sold on the car by Colonel Campbell, despite the latter futilely attempting to tell Snake that the Fulton hadn't seen use since 1984.



External links

Notes and references

  1. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010).
    Kazuhira Miller: Boss, I’m starting to wonder if recruiting soldiers with the Fulton isn’t a little… heavy-handed? // Naked Snake: I already don’t like where this is going… // Miller: I think the voluntary approach could be more pragmatic. Technically we’re not a corporate entity, but at our size that’s not too far from the truth. We can’t keep using guerilla tactics to find new blood. To search for volunteers, select “RECRUIT” from the menu. Or, select “Trade” to exchange soldiers with other mercenary units. // Snake: Yeah, Provided we got the friends for that.
  3. ^ Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima Production (2015)
    Soviet Soldier 1: You notice how many of our men are MIA recently? // Soviet Soldier 2: You bet. And I heard there are American agents behind it. // Soviet Soldier 1: Here? No way. // Soviet Soldier 2: I'm serious. There have been multiple sightings of our comrades being lifted up by balloons and pulled away by helicopter. That's no dushman tactic. It's the Americans' Fulton recovery system. // Soviet Soldier 1: What...? But how many American spies would it take to do that...? Anyway, HQ is trying to think of ways to combat the threat. You be careful. // Soviet Soldier 2: OK. I have to get back. // Soviet Soldier 1: Yeah...
  4. ^ Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Kojima Productions (2015)
    Soldier: What's up? // Truck driver: You notice anything odd? // Soldier: Nothing really. But... // Truck driver: But what? // Soldier: A lot of guys have gone missing around these parts, lately. // Truck driver: Gone missing... Like, abducted? // Soldier: Beats me. But, you ever hear this rumor? There's this jungle around the Zaire border, full of ghosts. And anyone- Truck driver: Anyone who goes in there never comes out. // Soldier: So you know about it? // Truck driver: Listen, don't go talking about that stuff, OK? // Soldier: What do you mean? // Truck driver: I owe you guys out there. So just take my advice.
  5. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus, Kojima Productions (2007).
    Roy Campbell: That’s a Fulton recovery system. Normally, you’d need to go all the way back to the Withdraw Point if you wanted to abort the mission and withdraw. But using the Fulton system lets you pull out safely without having to go all that way. And it works the instant you use it. Keep it handy in case you need it in a pinch. Just don’t try it anywhere that has a ceiling! But don’t forget – you don’t get a Clear Bonus if you use the Fulton.
  6. ^