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Drones are not weapons of the powerful

2012 October 7
by Ian Welsh

If this is true, the drone shot down by Israel was from Hezbollah.

Drones are cheap.  They are just big radio controlled planes.  They cost nothing compared to a jet fighter, and the technology is not hard.  Islamic Jihad claims they might have one (who knows).  Hezbollah is sophisticated, they built their own telecom network, for example, and tapped into Israeli soldiers cell-phones in the last war.  They won the e-lint battle in that war.

Drones will spread, they are a poor man’s air force.  They suck compared to jets, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, but they are cheap, easy to make and easy to operate.  This is only the beginning.

(MFI has up a commentary worth reading, as well.)

21 Responses
  1. October 7, 2012

    It may have been from the Hizb who have a record of successfully penetrating Israeli airspace during the latest Israeli invasion of Lebanon using drones. The original report (Arabic Language) from al-Mayadeen is here here what’s interesting is how long it took the Israelis to detect it and then to intercept it. Al-Mayadeen quotes Ehud Barak as saying that he was instituting an enquiry into why the Israeli radar systems failed to detect it in time.

    You’re right that drones are a poor man’s weapon. But then so is a car bomb or a roadside bomb powerful enough to wreck a tank killing the occupants or a katyusha come to that. An effective weapon is one that is only as accurate and as deadly as it needs to be.

    My hunch (and it’s only a hunch) is that it was unarmed and that it was indeed from the Hizb who used it both to garner intelligence and to fire a warning shot. Nasrallah has repeatedly said the next war they would conduct operations inside Israel itself. He has a habit of making his promises come true.

    mfi

  2. October 7, 2012

    Small correction. The person saying that a commission of enquiry into why the Israeli radars failed was being set up was an Israeli army spokesman not Ehud Barak.

    The relevant paragraph is here:

    وكان وزير الدفاع الإسرائيلي إيهود باراك أكد أن إسرائيل “تنظر بخطورة إلى محاولة إنتهاك مجالها الجوي”، مشيداً بعملية إسقاط الطائرة واصفاً إياها بـ”الناجحة” علماً “أن الرادارات الإسرائيلية المنتشرة على حدود قطاع غزة فشلت في توجيه الطائرات إلى إسقاط الطائرة إلا بعد مرور وقت طويل، مما أتاح لها إختراق الأجواء والوصول إلى مسافات بعيدة في العمق الإسرائيلي” بحسب ناطق باسم الجيش الإسرائيلي قال “إنه تم تشكيل لجنة تحقيق لمعرفة أسباب فشل الرادارات”.

    mfi

  3. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    October 7, 2012

    Al Jazeera reported this last night:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/10/201210616345574876.html

    some salt required.

  4. steeleweed permalink
    October 7, 2012

    Re: detection:
    Radar is useful for detecting incoming at altitude but is really is possible to ‘fly under the radar’. My hunch is that this was a probe of IDF’s ability to detect/destroy. In a combat situation, a flood of cheap drones could overwhelm defenses simply by sheer numbers. Imagine 1000 drones, each pre-programmed for a target and once homed in, operating independently from GPS or external control so that Electronic CounterMeasures would be ineffective…

  5. DWBartoo permalink
    October 7, 2012

    Yes, Ian, drones are NOT weapons of the powerful … and they now have the full blessing and “support” of the USA in their use, when ever, where ever, and on whom ever their “owners” might wish to use them.

    Soon enough, they will be all the rage, ubiquitous, “affordable” … If Henry Ford’s “T” model put a portion of the world on wheels, then let it be understood that drones bring mayhem into everyone’s home, up-close and VERY impersonally.

    War-at-a-”distance” is, now, within everyone’s “grasp”.

    Brave new world, old dead people … and anyone could be “next”.

    DW

  6. Morocco Bama permalink
    October 7, 2012

    .

    There are so many uses for these wonderfully efficient and effective devices. They’re coming up with new functions for them every day. Here’s the latest. Don’t let a little thing like a Disaster get you down. Drones to the rescue.

    OpenRelief gives drones a humanitarian purpose.

    These days, when you think of drones, you probably think of assassinations and police surveillance. However, the OpenRelief project is developing a more humanitarian role for robot airplanes – gathering information to aid disaster relief. Using free software and off-the-shelf components, the project is well on its way to providing an effective toolkit at a fraction of the price of equivalent proprietary solutions…..

    OpenRelief is only midway through its initial development, but already it is being noticed by other projects and companies. Several companies, including Nanode and Toradex AG, have contributed hardware to the project.

    In addition, the Sahana Software Foundation, one of the first free software solutions for disaster management, is helping to make sure that OpenRelief’s software is readable from its Eden disaster management platform. Similarly, OpenRelief is working with Cosm so that its information can be shared across as wide a variety of hardware and software as possible.

    Other connections are less obvious, but open up intriguing possibilities. For example, Aleph Objects has contributed 3D printing capacity, which opens up such possibilities as developing components cheaply, or even creating additional drones on the spot. OpenRelief is also working with OpenStreet Map Japan, not just to ensure compatibility of software, but also to re-map the existing disaster zone in Japan.

    More recently, Lattimer has enlisted Eshott Airfield, a small facility in Northumbria for help in testing. As Coughlan explains, “This means that we can take prototypes to their airfield, test them in a safe location, and iron out bugs before we do a larger scale test. This type of access and capacity is a tremendous step forward, especially from the perspective of moving beyond off-the-shelf airframes and prototyping.” Instead of just offering a theoretical solution, with such testing, OpenRelief can offer tested and proven ones – which should make other partnerships even more likely in the future.

    A campaign slogan for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

    A Drone In Every Pot

    From chickens to drones…we’ve come a long way, and yet, we haven’t moved an inch.

    .

  7. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    October 7, 2012

    Another source reporting yesterday as well:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2012/10/israeli-air-force-shoots-down-unidentified-drone-over-negev.html

    Some of the comments are worth noting as the site does extensive reporting of the region.

  8. Synoia permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Drones will spread, they are a poor man’s air force. They suck compared to jets

    That’s very doubtful. Jets are expensive to build, expensive to operate – they drink fuel, generally have a large radar cross section, and emit a lot of heat.

    As interceptors they have no peer. For many tasks they are too fast and have too limited endurance.

  9. Morocco Bama permalink
    October 8, 2012

    .

    Drones are to Occupations what Jets are to Invasions. Occupations take the majority of the time, therefore Drones will rule most of the day. Warfare’s changing, so too is the equipment. Pretty soon it won’t be Where Have All The Cowboys Gone, but instead Where Have All The Jet Fighter Pilots Gone. Video Game Geeks are the Heroes of the future.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPR108kwNo4

    .

  10. Stormcrow permalink
    October 8, 2012

    Drones will spread, they are a poor man’s air force.

    Yes, they’ll spread, like wildfire.

    This is just the beginning of a technical arms race. Right now, I think it’s probable closest relative was the arms race in manned aircraft between 1914 and 1990.

    And you know who won THAT arms race.

    So don’t expect drone airforces to last long in the hands of entities which don’t have the organic capacity to push the limits of their physical technology (speed, weapons load, maneuverability, armor, range, etc) and their information technology (capacity of the onboard computer(s), programming, onboard encryption, encryption of signals to/from ground, etc).

    And of course, they’ll need the ability to roll out what they’ve discovered to what, by that time, will be fleets of hundreds of thousands of unmanned military drone aircraft.

  11. October 8, 2012

    A campaign slogan for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
    A Drone In Every Pot
    From chickens to drones…we’ve come a long way, and yet, we haven’t moved an inch.

    Love it, MB. Am going to steal it.

  12. Morocco Bama permalink
    October 9, 2012

    .

    Go ahead, Lisa, it’s yours. It’s all ours. My stuff is your stuff is our stuff is as free as the air that we breath….and even that won’t be free for long.

    .

  13. Celsius 233 permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Drones are not weapons of the powerful
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hmm, that statement gives me pause; namely, it’s a weapon of both. A country like America put’s it out there as a cheap (relatively) way to kill people.
    A country like Syria, Iran, or Pakistan may find it a viable way for revenge or intimidation.
    Generally we get back the thing we put out; so, this doesn’t bode well, yes?

  14. October 9, 2012

    Celsius, think of it as poetic justice.

  15. Everythings Jake permalink
    October 9, 2012

    Is it a sign that I’ve grown too cynical that my immediate reaction was false flag operation used to justify a strike against Iran?

  16. October 10, 2012

    Is it a sign that I’ve grown too cynical that my immediate reaction was false flag operation used to justify a strike against Iran?

    No – it’s a sign that you’re not quite yet where you need to be, that you asked the question.

    ;)

  17. jo6pac permalink
    October 11, 2012

    The worlds sheeple are head to this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIM1DsGoXbY

    How sad for the future citizens of the little blus sphere hurling through space. Greed the bottom line.

  18. John Puma permalink
    October 12, 2012

    “Hezbollah says it sent Iranian-built drone over Israel”

    http://tinyurl.com/9eq5hb3

  19. Celsius 233 permalink
    October 15, 2012

    Curiouser and curiouser; this over at RT;

    Downed Hezbollah drone may have relayed intel on secret IDF sites

    http://rt.com/news/hezbollah-drone-israel-secrets-403/

  20. Phoenician in a time of Romans permalink
    October 18, 2012

    So don’t expect drone airforces to last long in the hands of entities which don’t have the organic capacity to push the limits of their physical technology (speed, weapons load, maneuverability, armor, range, etc) and their information technology (capacity of the onboard computer(s), programming, onboard encryption, encryption of signals to/from ground, etc).

    Why?

    I mean, an armed force is goal-driven – the point is to develop the capability to impose your will on a potential enemy, even if this is just to inflict an unacceptable hurt on a far superior force.

    It doesn’t matter if drones are not the flashiest or best around as long as they get the job done and “the job” can be very limited. Unlike jets, drones aren’t going to be dogfighting, or trying to protect a vulnerable pilot, or expecting to come back. So what if they’re slower or carry less than their technological rivals as long as they can fulfill the task they were designed to do?

    Consider – a mortar is an old, untechnologically sophisticated weapon – which is still used in modern armies. Even in the best armies, it’s not cutting edge, and as far as I know, the M120 doesn’t have a computer strapped to it. But it’s still there because it provides cheap, mobile indirect artillery organic to small infantry units – it does its job and doesn’t need to be flash.

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