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  • Armed, unmanned and high tech drones or remotely piloted

  • aircraft are becoming a ubiquitous battlefield presence.

  • And frankly, I think we're in the middle of an underground

  • drone arms race and larger drones like the mq nine Reaper,

  • as well as medium sized drones such as the Turkish TB two and

  • the Chinese wing loonged II have become a must have item for

  • militaries worldwide. At the moment we've seen we see like

  • over 100 states worldwide are using military drones and that

  • number is growing significantly in Libya, Nagorno Karabakh, and

  • during the US Global War on Terror. armed drones have been

  • active across the globe. These drones can fly 1000s of feet

  • high and rain down destruction with pinpoint accuracy with

  • little warning. But who makes these high tech weapons of war?

  • It is not very easy to develop armed drones but it also is not

  • quite as difficult as say developing new nuclear weapons.

  • And who is buying them.

  • Drone technology isn't that new. During World War Two the US

  • remotely piloted A B 17 as part of a test program and during the

  • Cold War drones were used to spy on other countries. The SR-71

  • even had a rocket powered drone that it could deploy in flight

  • to take photos to be retrieved later. Drones date back much

  • longer to early flight but like the modern drones basically

  • trace their origin to the 80s. The convergence of satellite

  • technology composites and computer miniaturization allowed

  • for the rise of drones like the General Atomics mq one predator.

  • General Atomics, which includes ga aeronautical Systems Inc, are

  • one of the leading producers of unmanned systems in the world.

  • They currently produce the mq nine Reaper as well as the naval

  • version, the sea Guardian among other unmanned systems. In the

  • 2000s. The predator was armed with missiles, which quietly

  • started a new arms race. It had the ability to stay overhead for

  • long periods of time, and it could be controlled by a ground

  • station in another country. The drone became the face of us

  • conflicts in the Middle East. And moral and legal questions

  • about drone use rose from the targeted killing campaigns that

  • the US operates to this day. In 2001, the mq nine Reaper made

  • its first flight and eventually became the dominant arm drone

  • that the US fielded. The Reaper has a payload of 3850 pounds,

  • which compares to the predators 450 pounds. This means it can

  • carry far more missiles or bombs than the predator among other

  • advantages. But what will eventually replace the hundreds

  • of Reaper drones has yet to be revealed. One current General

  • Atomics aeronautical project as seen in this General Atomics

  • video is the Avenger the US military has not adopted the

  • Avenger for frontline service. The advanced drone is designed

  • to be stealthy and survivable against modern air defenses,

  • which could make it a window into what the drone of the

  • future will look like that replaces the mq nine, the US

  • government the US military will never fight another war without

  • drone technology ever again. But unfortunately, I feel like as a

  • whole, we are no longer have the advantage. countries around the

  • world have taken notice of the investment the US is pouring

  • into larger drones. And they've made efforts to buy these game

  • changing drones themselves.

  • The US has been judicious about what countries that allows

  • General Atomics to sell to. We have put too much of an emphasis

  • on restricting exports to countries that are in need of

  • this technology countries that are friendly to us because we've

  • wanted to maintain that airspace dominance. The mq nine requires

  • a ground station satellite links and maintenance for its high

  • tech hardware and software. And this means the mq nines

  • ballooning price point of around $32 million has dissuaded some

  • perspective buyers allies like Australia have shown interest in

  • buying the mq nine B and the US State Department cleared a $1.6

  • billion deal in late April for 12, Sky guardians and all

  • associated equipment but the demand for more affordable

  • drones hasn't subsided, leading to others filling the needs of

  • the market. What's interesting to note is that for many years,

  • about a decade or so before, the US and Israel basically had a

  • monopoly over more sophisticated armed drone systems. And neither

  • of them were really keen on exporting, Israel was one of the

  • earliest adopters of drone technology and also one of the

  • first exporters' however these exported drones are generally

  • unarmed, making them less useful against military targets. And

  • partly because there was this almost export ban. A number of

  • other actors started to develop their own domestic armed drones,

  • most notably China and Turkey. China's Chengdu aircraft

  • industry group has produced the wing loong series of drones. The

  • price point of the wing long to which runs an estimated one to

  • $2 million has made it up

  • Popular addition to militaries in Africa and the Middle East,

  • Russia is likely to try to eventually export its homegrown

  • Orion drone, and Turkey which has made a strong push in recent

  • decades to build an aerospace industry has produced one of the

  • most infamous medium sized drones. The Baykar defense

  • produced TB2 to which is controlled by line of sight has

  • made an impact in Nagorno Karabakh and in Libya. Several

  • countries including Ukraine, which signed a $69 million

  • contract for armed TB2s in 2019 have ordered the Turkish drone,

  • and more potential buyers could be wooed by the highlight reel

  • of the TB2 taking our modern tanks in real world situations.

  • These highlight reels of destruction haven't been all

  • upside for the new entry to the armed drone market.

  • Some armed drones have been regulated as missiles under

  • international law. I think our policymakers need to adapt the

  • policy for the 21st century and understand that there's many

  • different actors using drone technology and they're using

  • them in different ways. The Missile Technology Control

  • Regime or mtcr restricts the export of missiles capable of

  • carrying a 500 kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers. This is

  • why some drones are considered missiles under the mtcr. The US

  • has previously limited what drones can be sold to other

  • countries due to the mtcr. Sort of the big drone export news

  • changed last summer

  • when the Trump administration decided to loosen some

  • restrictions on what the United States could expert the Biden

  • administration has so far upheld that relaxed restriction Canada

  • and Germany are two countries that have banned the export of

  • key materials used to make armed drones in Turkey and Iran

  • respectively. In the end, drones are just you know, model

  • airplanes with great sensors on them. And all of these are, you

  • know, dual use and simply used in the civilian realm. And in

  • fact, the drones have risen enormously in the civilian realm

  • over the last five to 10 years. And so so controlling their

  • export is is really difficult. And I would also note that it is

  • not that difficult to to develop these systems. What happens when

  • everyone can buy a quadcopter or a fixed wing drone for a couple

  • 100 bucks. Some manufacturers of non military drones have put in

  • safeguards, like geo fencing to prevent drones from being

  • weaponized. geo fencing is a preset limitation on where drone

  • can be flown. airports are commonly fenced off to prevent

  • drones from interfering with airport operations. Civilian

  • drones can also be used for all kinds of really helpful

  • applications from agricultural use to checks and controls etc.

  • So how do you control those kinds of things, there are also

  • concerns about the ethical problems with using armed

  • drones. So for example, the large scale drone campaign

  • started by bush and expanded under Obama.

  • We saw the increased use of armed drones for targeted

  • executions and increasing numbers of civilians who were

  • killed in those kind of operations who didn't have any

  • access to accountability and in reparations, because technically

  • the program didn't exist.

  • Large armed drones aren't going away. Bayker is working on a

  • larger drone called the Akinci which can be satellite

  • controlled and has a larger payload. China also appears to

  • be working towards fielding a newly developed armed drone. But

  • advances in technology are allowing smaller drones to

  • tackle missions that previously would have only been possible

  • with a larger drone. So when I see conflicts, like what's

  • taking place in Syria, or with Russia, starting to use these

  • all over the world, and not even just the type of drones that you

  • would think are multimillion dollar drones, we're talking

  • about drones that a kid can purchase off of the Internet,

  • and anyone that has savvy knowledge of how to turn these

  • things into deadly weapons has the ability. Unfortunately,

  • these days to do something bad with it. Drone swarms are dozens

  • or hundreds of drones operating in unison that can overwhelm

  • defenses. And loitering munitions like the Herot which

  • is produced in Israel are blurring the line between cruise

  • missile and drone and with regard to geese, loitering

  • munitions or camicazi, drones or whatever you want to call them.

  • These are primarily at this point produced by Israel. Both

  • are systems that basically go into the air they they loiter

  • for a while, search for a target and then dive into the car to

  • target and explode with it. This is why they're called Kamikaze

  • drones because they you know, they don't come back they they

  • destroy themselves new types of armed drones, potential civilian

  • casualties and the legal gray area of targeted killings are

  • all issues that the drone industry will need to contend

  • with in the coming years. The biggest challenge at the moment,

  • how does technology which is always two steps ahead of

  • regulation, how can we ensure that it doesn't get out of hand

Armed, unmanned and high tech drones or remotely piloted

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B2 US drone armed reaper export technology israel

Why Demand For Armed-Drones Is Surging

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/09
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