One of the more notable tactical innovations by IS fighters in Iraq and Syria has been the increasing ‘weaponisation’ of commercial, hobby and home made drones.
While relatively unsophisticated, these flying IEDs are available for purchase online and relatively easy to construct.
The video we show here was released by IS as the supposed ‘highlights’ of recent weaponised drone use in Mosul. It starts with the launch of an off-the-shelf commercial Chinese drone for ISR, and then shows a number of crude ‘airdropped’ weapons. Note the use of parachutes to aid accuracy.
While it is impossible to verify the veracity of the videos (some of which seem enhanced), and particularly the strengths of the strikes, it is clear that this is a genuine threat that Australian Army operators may face in the future.
Another video here (which has generated significant commentary online) shows a specific strike on an Iraqi M1 Abrams tank. Again the video cannot be verified, but if true it is likely the soldier on top would have been injured.
Countermeasures are developing. This article by The Drive discusses point ‘Anti-Drone’ guns and more ‘area systems’ that seek to identify and jam incoming drones before they arrive on target.
So, have a read and a think. Next time you have 10 spare minutes at work, share this post and discuss it with your peers. Consider the following:
- Where do you think Australian Army troops might face threats like this in the future? How could they become more sophisticated? What about swarming?
- How real a threat is this? What is the range of these devices, and how far away could the drone operator be? Would this be more or less of a threat in certain terrains i.e. wooded, urban, littoral?
- How would you change the TTPs of your unit to counter this threat? How would you set up a surveillance matrix to detect such threats coming in? If you are logistics, would you have to disperse more? If armour, would you need to remain under cover or closed down? What would the balance of risk be between protection and situational awareness?
- At the higher level, how much should we bend procurement ‘out of shape’ to address threats like these? Should this be a ‘design driver’, or do we need to be more concerned with conventional threats like massed fires or direct fire kinetic weapons?