The Reality of Armed, Commercial Drones

Motivated by the threat of terrorist drones, the House recently approved the “ Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 ” and the Senate is expected to follow suit. The bill allows Homeland Security and the Justice Department to detect, track, and even destroy an unmanned aircraft. This law comes on the heels of the drone-based assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. By refashioning a surveillance drone to include munition capability, this attack highlights the ability of state and non-state actors to repurpose commercial drones into a DIY armed drone. As a result, security forces both inside and outside of the military must be prepared for this reality.

The old distinction between armed and reconnaissance drones is rapidly diminishing; while it used to be that only large, military-specific drones were armed, smaller commercial and hobbyist drones are increasingly capable of carrying munition. As the Venezuela incident demonstrates, hobbyist,

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