"“Some of the bad guys are fiddling around, trying to improve the performance,” she said. “It may be a very basic, ‘actually take off’ kind of improvement, but it says that there is some level of active work in the drone area. It’s probably not super-sophisticated yet, but they’re working on them.”
Out-of-the-box, tactically viable drones can be purchased on Amazon for under $100, but face major operational limitations due to their short range, slow flight speed and minimal battery life. ISIS has used commercial drones to capture propaganda footage of battlefields and suicide attacks since at least December 2014, but improvising solutions to their limitations would raise the ante — and potential lethality.
Weaponized payloads, while difficult for ISIS to pull off, are not too far a stretch. “If it was me, I would be asking ‘How can I extend the battery life, how can I extend the operational range, how can I stick a payload on here that I can actually use? How can I really get that to work?’” Grant said." Marine Corps Times
Having given drones (UAV) some thought, I have reached the conclusion that the introduction of UAVs to the kind of wars that I deal with will have a profound effect.
There has been a great deal of attention given to the use of very sophisticated UAVs by the US. The armed Predator has become the very symbol of the GWOT and it is not by any means the most fearsome UAV possessed by the US. Reconnaissance and armed UAVs are an interesting auxiliary capability for a state that possesses an air force.
OTOH, the possession of UAVs will be a game changer for those combatant parties that do not possess a traditional air capability. The ability to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance over extended distances will lead inevitably to armed systems.
The toy helicopter drones now being experimented with by IS are just the beginning. Fixed wing drones with actual engines are easy to make. The technology is familiar to model airplane enthusiasts who seem to exist in every country in the world. The process of scaling up sizes to pilotless aircraft with a wing span of ten feet or more is just a matter of experimentation and incremental improvement. Guidance systems over extended ranges will be more of a problem but some sort of GPS system and airborne relays of signals from the drone to its controllers can overcome that.
We are now glimpsing the shape of insurgent warfare to come. pl