first published on August 10, 2018 by Josh
Over the past two years we have seen commercial drones heavily modified for combat. In that time, we have seen fringe groups like Jabhat al-Nusra use drones as command and control devices during coordinated mechanized assaults, and we have seen groups like the Islamic State using modified drones as unmanned aerial reconnaissance vessels to guide their suicide vehicles into large concentrations of troops. We have also seen a number of these groups heavily modify their drones in order to deliver a small 40mm payload directly on top of their enemy causing massive amounts of psychological damage to troops on the ground when they hear that lawnmower like buzzing sound overhead. Many of these videos were taken out of larger propaganda pieces, as the drone’s initial function as an aerial photography platform is often still functioning when used in this manner. This also makes them great propaganda tools as they can record devastating attacks, while also coordinating or delivering payloads directly on top of their targets.
This new adaptation from our enemies has made many heads at the Pentagon turn over the past two years. Contracts have been put out tasking companies with developing tools and technology that Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen can use on the ground to defeat commercial drones in their battle space. This technology, so far at least, has ranged from man-portable cannons that fire a signal to block the drone’s receiver forcing the device to land, all the way to nets that can be fired at a distance in order to disable the rotors and send the device tumbling to the ground.
The cost of these devices and counter-measures is an unknown factor, but one can assume that they range anywhere from in the 10’s of thousands to 100’s of thousands per unit. What this does, is give our enemy one more cost-effective way of draining resources from our large military budget. This allows the enemy to force modern military super powers into spending thousands of dollars for every single dollar that they invest into combat. In the short-term, the larger budget will always win, but for as long as these conflicts have been, and will continue to rage, those dollar amounts begin to add up to a lot of tax payer’s money.
While our research and development continues here at home however, a singular member of the PKK seems to have found a relatively cost-effective way to defeat these drones. Before the drones can make an effective bombing attack, they are forced to hover for a few brief moments in order to dial in their target and ensure a hit. In that short window of opportunity, there is a slight chance that a soldier can take a well placed shot to disable or destroy the drone using nothing more than his issued rifle. This video is something that leadership throughout the U.S. military should be taking note of, and using as a new standard for designated marksmen throughout all branches of the world’s military super powers.
If a barely trained, under-funded, and under-fed PKK fighter in flip flops can take down a small commercial drone using his AK-47 and iron sights, there is no reason that our designated marksmen should not be able to replicate this shot in training, and on the field of battle where this threat is now an ever-present tool of death.