July 16, 2012
Today across America, we’re witnessing an explosion in the planned deployment of spy drones, military drones and surveillance drones, both for law enforcement use and military use. The FAA has granted permission for tens of thousands of drones to be flown in the skies of America, and companies like Raytheon are working on tiny munitions (missiles) that can be carried by single-shot drones. What follows is my personal analysis of near-future drone capabilities and countermeasures, extrapolated from information found in public articles as well as my personal knowledge of military and law enforcement tactics and mission profiles.
Drones are now being weaponized in America. As reported in AINonline (http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/2012-07-08/raytheons-purpose-b…)
Raytheon’s new small tactical munition (STM), which the U.S. group claims is the first purpose-built weapon for tactical unmanned air systems (UAS), could be in active service within a few months. The STM is 22 inches long, 3.6 inches in diameter and weighs 13.5 pounds, and could be used on a UAS with a payload as low as 50 to 60 pounds.
This development, combined with the incredible expansion of the surveillance police state which already monitors all phone calls, emails, social networking activities and website searches, means that the “Rise of the Machines” will likely take place with small flying robots rather than the bipedal machines depicted in “Terminator.”
If you want to see how far these drones have come in just the last few years, check out this astonishing video entitled “Aerobot’s new design – The Ring – Dodecacopter”
And take a look at this video of the Stalker drone built by Lockheed Martin:
Eliminate the humans from the front lines
It has long been the desire of the military to eliminate all humans from the front lines of battle. If machines could do the job of humans, you not only wouldn’t have body bags (secretly and quietly) sent back home; you’d also have nobody to question the ethics of, say, opening fire on civilian protesters.
The only thing holding back the military from total global domination right now is that those “damn humans” are in the way, refusing to follow orders that would be too genocidal. Remove the humans from the equation with an army of manufactured robots and you have the perfect storm for a mechanized, robotics-augmented global war machine.
And what power-hungry bureaucrat wouldn’t want ten million obedient, weaponized flying robots at his command? It’s a dream come true for all who seek power — which is virtually everyone in Washington D.C. and the Pentagon.
Inevitably, this will lead to humanity’s war with robots.
Here’s some information that will help human beings survive the Drone Wars:
Typical drone types
• Fixed-wing aircraft: Capable of high-altitude, long-right flight. Able to carry large camera pods for extreme surveillance. May include both visible spectrum and infrared cameras. Relatively large payload capability (several hundred pounds). Long flight and control ranges, such as tens of miles. Top manufacturers are U.S. and Israel. Typical fixed-wind drone is the Predator (http://www.rferl.org/content/drones_who_makes_them_and_who_has_them/2…) (http://www.uavfactory.com).
Also see experiment U.S. Navy rotor drones:
• Multi-rotor drones: Much smaller devices such as those made by www.DraganFly.com – capable of small payloads such as cameras, microphones and potential small arms. Very quiet, stable flight profiles. Very limited range, sometimes as much as only 150 meters. Would typically be used by local law enforcement to see what’s in someone’s back yard. Limited flight times (such as 10 minutes).
• Hybrid rotor/wheeled drone: (near future) This drone is able to fly to a destination, land, retract its rotors and then proceed in stealth mode on the ground using tracks or wheels. This method of movement also vastly conserves energy compared to hovering. One possible configuration of such a drone is a hybrid gasoline / electric system where a small gasoline engine provides the power for flight while a silent electrical system provides power for ground movement. These hybrid drones would be ideal for gathering intelligence on the ground using directional microphones and video cameras, where mission profiles call for long surveillance times. A small alternator would allow the gasoline engine to recharge the batteries during flight.
By the way, drones are already being developed using power sources which are recharged from the ground, meaning they can fly continuously for 40 hours or longer (http://www.unmanned.co.uk/unmanned-vehicles-news/unmanned-aerial-vehi…).
Drone sensory packages
Drones can be outfitted with numerous sensory packages, including:
• Visible spectrum still cameras.
• Visible spectrum video cameras.
• Visible spectrum video cameras with video transmission back to the control center.
• Infrared cameras, both still and video.
• Radiation sensors.
• Directional microphones and sound sensors.
Drone operational profiles
These are the types of missions drones would typically carry out:
• High-altitude visual monitoring of stationary targets: Stay out of view of the targets on the ground below, fly a repeating pattern to maintain position over the target while taking live video and transmitting it back to command. This is typically undertaken by a fixed-wing drone.
• High-altitude tracking of a mobile target: Fixed-wing drones following a vehicle or a person, keeping sight of them and transmitting back to command.
• Low-altitude (hover) monitoring: (multi-rotor drones) This mission profile would likely be used to monitor tactical situations such as firefights or standoffs. The hover capability makes it ideal for peering into windows from low angles, but the limited flight time and close range makes them relatively easy targets for counter-tactics.
• Touchdown monitoring: (Only achievable with multi-rotor drones.) This means the drone lands at a pre-selected location, deploys microphones and surveillance cameras, and then takes flight to return for refueling. This has the advantage of silent surveillance during the time that the drone is on the ground. The most suitable drone for this mission profile is a hybrid rotor/wheeled drone which could land, traverse the ground using wheels or tracks, and then regain flight when needed to return to command.
• Kamikazee: This mission profile uses the drone as a suicide bomber to either deliver a fixed payload to a target, or to uses the mass and momentum of the drone itself as a weapon. Will be used only rare in this manner, as it results in either the destruction or the loss of the drone (and possibly allowing drone technology to fall into enemy hands).
Drone payloads used by governments against an “enemy” may include:
• Miniature missiles: Guided systems that are carried by the drone to a position near the target, then fired at high speed through the use of a rocket propellant. Guidance systems make minor adjustments to keep the missile on target. Can be thought of as a small Hellfire missile.
• High explosive satchels: A “satchel” charge that simply drops from the drone and explodes on contact with the target, below.
• Radioactive dirty bombs: A collection of radioactive dust that can be dispersed at an optimum altitude over a high-density population area in order to cause mass radiation poisoning and decades of crop failures.
• Bioweapons: This payload can be secretly and silently dropped over a large city in order to set off an infectious disease pandemic.
• Propaganda: A payload of small sheets of paper containing written instructions or demands, to be picked up and read by the population on the ground.
• Self-destruct bomb: Either an electrical or a chemical self-destruct mechanism that can be remotely detonated. If electrical, it would “fry” the drone electronics and render them inoperable. If chemical, it would involve a small amount of high explosive material and would be used either to avoid a drone falling into enemy hands or to use the drone itself as a guided weapon. (“Kamikazee drone.”)
Evading drones will likely involve the following strategies:
• Daylight camouflage: Using netting over vehicles and camo patterns for other objects that confuse vision recognition systems. Currently the best such camo pattern is known as A-TACS, as it uses a fractal mathematical model to depict patterns within patterns, meaning that the camouflage effect works at almost any zoom scale. (www.a-tacs.com)
• Nighttime light discipline: Drones running night sorties will be able to very quickly spot vehicle lights and personal flashlights, even at long distances (miles). This necessitates the use of night vision gear for any movement during the night where drones wish to be avoided.
• Space blankets for thermal cover: So-called “space blankets” (Mylar sheets) block infrared rays (heat rays) from common sources. When drones attempt to use infrared sensors to spot humans, survivors will likely turn to the use of space blanket ponchos to keep themselves hidden.
• Weather exploitation: Drones are not able to navigate through intense rainstorms, hail, high winds or other adverse conditions. Those seeking to avoid drones will likely plan their movement to take advantage of adverse weather conditions. Clear skies is an indication that drones are watching.
It is well known in the highest levels of the U.S. military that “enemy” forces — whether that be armed fighters of a foreign nation or even freedom fighters in a home country — will attempt to destroy, disable or evade all types of drones (surveillance, weapon payloads, etc.).
What has not yet been discussed in much detail are the various countermeasures that might be used to accomplish these tasks:
• Direct fire: This method of interdicting drones will have very low success rates. Shotguns have a very limited range of effectiveness, and while rifles have sufficient range to get the job done, it is exceedingly difficult for even well-trained riflemen to gauge the distance and angle of fire necessary to accurately target a moving drone in the sky. This is especially so at night, when drones are simply impossible to see in the sky. Using handguns to attempt to destroy drones flying at altitude is little more than a waste of ammo.
• Smoke: Smoke bombs and grenades have always offered a tactical tool for moving under concealment. Any heavy use of drones against a civilian population will likely result in the population invoking heavy reliance on smoke concealment for tactical movement.
• EMP weapons: EMP weapons would be highly effective against drones, but their difficulty of manufacture and deployment makes them very unlikely to be encountered in the field.
• Drone-seeking drones: The most successful drone countermeasure would likely be a “drone-seeking drone” whose only function is to collide at high speed with another drone, thereby knocking them both out of service. These “drone-seeking drones” or SDS would likely be battery-operated, fire-and-forget countermeasures. You turn it on, toss it into the air, and it immediately takes flight with the sole purpose of intercepting another drone at high speed. This would be accomplished with simple infra-red sensors combined with noise sensors. All drones generate heat and noise. To date, there are no “stealth” drones being deployed that we know of.
• High wires: In areas where multi-rotor drones would attempt to approach close-in to a surveillance or military target, likely countermeasures would include stringing wires or even fishing line between high-elevation objects such as trees and telephone poles. Any drone that comes into contact with fishing line is likely to be immediately entangled and suffer terminal flight failure.
• GPS spoofing: Small, portable GPS transmitter have already been demonstrated that spoof GPS signals and thereby interdict drones’ navigation communications. This can be used, for example, to steer drones into self-destruction flight paths or to even hijack them and land them on a runway (this is what Iran already did to a U.S. military drone).
For more on GPS spoofing, see:
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