The Future of Drone Technology
Drone technology is one of the fastest developing in the defence and security industry. The benefits provided by having 'an eye in the sky' remind us of the days were 'balloonatics' were deployed during the First World War to survey enemy lines before planes were rolled out to the battlefield. Between 1914 and 1918, Arial Technology has gone such a transformation to the point that it was unrecognizable. The same can be said about the so called War on Terror which is still going as we speak.
Advantages of Drones
So what might the benefits of having a drone in the sky be? Well apart from the obvious such as taking out the pilot from harms way, the cost-saving benefits are beyond belief. As of 2010, it is possible to save anything between 12-20 times the cost by deploying a drone. Drones also provide the extended benefit in that they can sustain an operation by lingering in the battle space for an extended period of time. They are very handy for taking a peak around that corner of a building. The Israelis have been testing this out extensively much earlier than most conventional forces with very good results. An average soldier can quickly deploy one of these little toys from they back-pack. The best part about this beast is that is is Q U I T E!
As the technology stated getting more mainstream, the reach of our adversaries to get a hold of them has also been extended. There are several armed militant groups that have been working on either acquiring or developing their own technologies. These range from state-sponsored actors such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to the Huthis in Yemen (not to mention the Palestinians who were trained by the Iranians at one point).
Acquiring the technology has become so mainstream that militants are now looking at the next stage which is arming these drones and even getting them to fly under the radar.
The advantages that drones have is that they are very small in cross-section which can make them hard to pick up depending on the Arial Defence system you have deployed. As it stands today, developed countries have restrictive protocols and responsive measures in place to deal with the threat of a drone occupying unauthorized air-space. This doesn't mean that with the right drone design, cross-section and wide variety of coatings (yeah you thought we were gonna say the names weren't you!) , not only can one strengthen the physical structure of the drone but also deflect and absorb radar signals. This rang a bell in Abha Airport attacks in Saudi Arabia this year and it is a clear red flag for things to come.
In the eyes of the Intelligence Community, the case for strategic surprise cannot be plausibly deniable considering how interconnected we are today. The ability of our adversaries to acquire these capabilities means we need to get more creative when it comes to tackling these issues. When we get asked our opinion, we are pretty straightforward. It is in human nature to keep on innovating technologically when the need arises and there will always be a technological fix somewhere in the future. Rather than chasing the future, we should look at what we can do in the now since technology never remains constant.
As stated in earlier in the blog, war is the biggest driver of innovation. Technology will always be an enabler in security, but not the final solution. If Yemen, a country with the highest Cholera Epidemic where 50% of its population is going through a famine can launch a drones that bomb airports, imagine what other more powerful non-state actors can do?