Many have written about the use of these drones, the ethics of them being used to infiltrate countries and kill illegally, the applications of their use in public areas and the invasion of privacy they represent.
These points are all extremely valid and need to be addressed but I would like to write about the actual military use of these drones in a more practical sense.
Let’s look at the U.S. military. They have been driving force in the use and development of drone technologies. Currently 1/3rd of U.S. aircraft are drones and there is continuing development of ground units such as the Swords platform and more advanced projects like the Big Dog.
These technologies are impressive and no doubt the people who are developing them believe they are building robots which save lives. A parallel could be drawn with the invention of the Gatling gun, designed and built in the 1860s by Dr. Richard J. Gatling. Gatling wrote that he created it to reduce the size of armies and so reduce the number of deaths by combat and disease, and to show how futile war is. That might have been his plan but history tells us that it didn’t work out that way.
Hypothetical situation, the year is 2017 after a long build up war has finally broken out with Iran. America and its N.A.T.O allies are going to invade. The operation is planned in the same manner as desert storm the only difference being all units are drone. Imagine the scene it would be something like James Cameron envisioned in the 1984 classic Terminator. The air is full of these flying robots they have unmanned tanks and other vehicles making their way across the sands, how can U.S. and N.A.T.O lose?
We have seen this type of battle hundreds of times in the past, the stronger larger military force going up against what they perceive as a weaker smaller force. What invariably happens is the smaller force turn to Guerrilla tactics. A guerrilla army would avoid any confrontation with large units of enemy troops, but seek and eliminate small groups of enemy to minimize losses and exhaust the opposing force. This weakens the enemy’s strength and causes the enemy eventually to be unable to prosecute the war any longer, and forces the enemy to withdraw. These tactics could be incredibly effective against drone armies.
The drone Program cost the U.S. $11.8 billion and this figure continues to rise. Now here is where we find the Achilles heel in the program.
The cost is disproportionate to the effect, if you are a smaller nation why would you spend or try to match the spending of say the U.S. you are off to a losing start. I believe countries would and have constructed ways in which these machines can be hacked. We saw Iran capture a spy drone back in December 2011.
Now back to our Hypothetical situation, we have this mass of machinery heading into Iran the Iranians release their counter measure and take control of the drones. The U.S. and N.A.T.O attack has not only been stopped it has been turned against them. We know these technologies have software and hardware built in to shield against this but it is an arms race which will see the advantage swing back and forth.
Why this scenario scares me so much is because of the plans they have for the near future. Blueprints have been made to construct a new generation of nuclear powered drones. In effect creating a flying dirty bomb, if there was an accident with just one of these that would be bad enough but imagine if control of these UAVs is lost, it could make 9/11 look like a firecracker.