Drone strike

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A Predator drone firing a Hellfire missile

A drone strike is typically where an unmanned combat aerial vehicle fires a missile at a target.[1] The drone may be equipped with such weapons as an air-to-surface missile, air-to-air missile, or other types of precision-guided munitions. Since the turn of the century, most drone strikes have been carried out by the US military in such countries as Pakistan and Yemen using air-to-surface missiles.[citation needed]

Only the United States, Israel, China, Iran, Italy, India, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey[2] are at present known to have manufactured operational UCAV as of December 2015.[3]

Drone attacks can also be done by weaponized commercial UAVs, such as being loaded with dangerous payloads, and crashed into vulnerable targets. Payloads could include explosives, chemical, radiologial or biological hazards. Anti-UAV systems are being developed by states to counter this threat. This is, however, proving difficult. As Dr J. Rogers stated in an interview to A&T "There is a big debate out there at the moment about what the best way is to counter these small UAVs, whether they are used by hobbyists causing a bit of a nuisance or in a more sinister manner by a terrorist actor.”[4]

Drone strikes by the United States[edit]

Ben Emmerson, special investigator for the United Nations Human Rights Council, said that U.S. drone strikes may have violated international humanitarian law.[5][6] The Intercept reported, "Between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes [in northeastern Afghanistan] killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets."[7][8] In the United States drone strikes are used to lessen the number of casualties since there is no-one that has to physically fight in combat. Being able to send drones to fight reduces the number of American lives lost substantially.[9] The U.S had increased the use of drone strikes significantly during Obama's presidency compared to Bush's.[10]

In August 2018, Al Jazeera reported that a Saudi Arabian-led coalition "battling Houthi rebels [in Yemen] secured secret deals with al-Qaeda in Yemen and recruited hundreds of the group's fighters. ... Key figures in the deal-making said the United States was aware of the arrangements and held off on drone attacks against the armed group, which was created by Osama bin Laden in 1988."[11][12][13]

Drone strikes by the Islamic State[edit]

Small drones and quadcopters have been used for strikes by the Islamic State. A group of twelve or more have been piloted by specially trained pilots to drop munitions onto U.S.-backed ground forces. They have been able to evade ground defense forces.[14]

During the battle for Mosul, the Islamic State was able to kill or wound dozens of Iraqi soldiers by dropping light explosives or 40-millimeter grenades from numerous drones attacking at the same time.

U.S. officials acknowledged that this was possibly the first time since they were fighting in the Vietnam War that the U.S. military was mostly powerless against the enemy's aircraft.

FBI Director Christopher Wray stated at a Senate hearing that "We do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones...We have seen that overseas already with some frequency. I think that the expectation is that it is coming here, imminently."[14]

Notable drone strikes[edit]

Notable deaths from drone strikes[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Agence France-Presse (14 March 2017). "US military deploys attack drones to South Korea". Defence Talk. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  2. ^ Baykar Technologies (17 December 2015). "17 Aralık 2015 – Tarihi Atış Testinden Kesitler" – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Haber7. "Milli İHA'ya yerli füze takıldı!".
  4. ^ "Anti-drone technology to be test flown on UK base amid terror fears". 2017-03-06. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  5. ^ Drone strikes by US may violate international law, says UN . The Guardian. 18 October 2013.
  6. ^ UN report calls for independent investigations of drone attacks. The Guardian. 18 October 2013.
  7. ^ "The Obama Administration's Drone-Strike Dissembling". The Atlantic. 14 March 2016.
  8. ^ "The Assassination Complex". The Intercept. 15 October 2015.
  9. ^ "COD Library Login". link.galegroup.com.cod.idm.oclc.org. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  10. ^ "Gale - Enter Product Login". go.galegroup.com. Retrieved 2018-05-08.
  11. ^ "Report: Saudi-UAE coalition 'cut deals' with al-Qaeda in Yemen". Al-Jazeera. 6 August 2018.
  12. ^ "US allies, Al Qaeda battle rebels in Yemen". Fox News. 7 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Allies cut deals with al Qaeda in Yemen to serve larger fight with Iran". San Francisco Chronicle. 6 August 2018.
  14. ^ a b Hennigan, W.J. (28 September 2017). "Islamic State's deadly drone operation is faltering, but U.S. commanders see broader danger ahead". L.A. Times. Retrieved 2 October 2017.