Drones – A Revolutionary Change in Warfare

MQ-9 Reaper, drone
MQ-9 Reaper

Drone warfare emerged in the early stages of the Afghanistan conflict. The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) was utilized for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions to develop situational awareness and complete the intelligence picture. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was the first to ‘weaponize’ a drone when it put some air to surface missiles on a Predator drone and used it to hit suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The U.S. Air Force embarked on an arming program for its Predators as well. The Predator was soon joined by the Reaper – an improved drone with more capability than the Reaper. Provided below are a selection of recent news reports, papers, and publications about drones.

Insurgents, Terrorists, and Drones. 2016 saw a troubling series of events in terms of the “bad guys” having the capability to use drones against the “good guys”. Over the past few months we have witnessed drone attacks by the Islamic State against French special operators in Syria, ISIS sending cheap drones with explosives against the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Taliban in Afghanistan using a drone to film a suicide attack against an Afghan security convoy. Read more of what all this means in “The Democratization of Airpower: The Insurgent and the Drone”, by T.X. Hammes, War on the Rocks, October 18, 2016.

New Drone Technologies Provide Terrorists with New Capabilities. Don Rassler, writing for the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, provides us with an examination of the current and future abilities of insurgent and terrorist groups to use drone warfare in support of their operations. Read Remotely Piloted Innovation: Terrorism, Drones, and Supportive Technology, October 20, 2016.



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