The drone buzzed over U.S. ground troops in southern Syria. It was big, about the size of a Predator, and it was armed.
Without warning, it fired.
The munition “hit dirt,” a Pentagon spokesman later told reporters, and a U.S. aircraft shot the UAV down. But the incident, along with a similar shootdown two weeks later, are just recent examples of the threat drones pose to U.S. and allied forces around the world. As the skies fill with everything from powerful Predator-style drones to cheap quadcopters that swarm, surveil and attack, ground troops need options to fight the full range of threats in this new era of the UAV.
“Whether it’s shooting them down, jamming them or frying their electronics, we’re seeing the U.S. experiment with all these different solutions, and that’s good,” said Paul Scharre, a former U.S. Army Ranger who now studies drones as a fellow for the Center for a New American Security. “It’s very reminiscent of the early days of aerial warfare.”
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