Saturday, January 28, 2017

ISIS Drones have become more deadly



By Jim Emerson, staff writer

The Islamic State has deployed a new threat in the battlefield and potentially in the West. The terrorists are launching commercially available drones and remote controlled aircrafts that are being weaponized. They are being used as grenade launchers, kamikaze bombers, flying decoys and for reconnaissance. They have the potential to be used as terror weapons on civilian population in the West.

This new capability has alarmed western armed forces, making it clear that the Islamic State one day could attack urban areas from the air as well as on the ground.

Many of the drones and RCs being adapted are readily available for purchase from on-line, mail order sites. ISIS technicians modify the drones to drop 40mm rifle grenades (RPGs) and are deploying them from Mosul to attack Iraqi ground forces attempting to free the city. The Islamic State has been conducting regular attacks using remotely controlled aircraft in their defense of the oil rich city.

ISIS has reduced the number of suicide car bombs and is now relying mostly on small quadcopters.  In Mosul, ISIS is using quadcopters to harass Iraqi forces and conduct strikes on support sites. The Iraqi ground forces call the drones “tieyara,” (Arabic shorthand for UAV).  Iraqis can bring down the aircraft with rifles and machine guns, but their attempts to do so are successful less than half of the time.

The U.S. led coalition is increasing efforts to counter drone modification. Coalition aircraft have destroyed drone launch sites and production facilities. The simplicity and mobility of RC aircraft doesn’t require large compounds to build them or a fixed site to launch the small scale aircraft.

The use and deployment of weaponized, remote controlled aircraft by a terrorist group should concern the west. The availability of drones and simple modifications required to drop munitions or perform kamikaze attacks have presented a new wrinkle to Homeland Security. The Department must now deal with a weapon that hostile operators can used beyond line-of-site, operate from a remote launch site and which carries a low radar/infrared signature. Most commercial counter-measures are configured to counter off the shelf unmodified UAVs.  Scary.


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