Commentators have been worrying away at the likelihood of terrorist groups turning to small commercial drones not only for surveillance – IS have been doing that for some time now (see the image above) – but also for air strikes (see, for a recent example, Robert J Bunker‘s report for the US Army War College here). The surveillance capabilities of quadcopters have been used to direct attacks by IS ground forces, including vehicles carrying suicide bombs, but the Pentagon now reports that the drones have also been equipped with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
In response, the Pentagon has asked for $20 million for its Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency to develop counter-measures: to ‘identify, acquire, integrate and conduct testing’ of methods that are able to ‘counter the effects of unmanned aerial systems and the threats they pose to U.S. forces.’
Perhaps they should also look closer to home. Two men in Connecticut have contested the right of the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate their use of ‘recreational drones’ equipped with a handgun and a flamethrower. Here’s a video clip:
And other commentators are already looking beyond war zones: systems like these enable groups like IS – and individuals – to carry the fight far beyond the territory they control and into the heart of cities in North America, Europe and elsewhere.