Poor Man's Air Force: A guide to how small drones might be used in domestic unrest or low intensity conflicts
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Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are changing the tactical landscape of warfare. The use of drones in conflicts has the potential to alter centuries of ground warfare in the same way as disruptive technologies like smokeless powder, the repeating firearm, tanks, and radios did in the past. Not just a rhetorical discussion of drone warfare, this book looks at practical usage by the prepared citizen, partisan, and soldier.
In 2022, Ukrainian use of modified consumer-grade drones for attack surprised the world who had only really seen them used in intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance roles. Lurid videos of grenades being dropped on unaware troops heralds a terrifying new reality in warfare: the poor man’s air force. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are bringing an aerial observation and attack capacity to forces, large and small, that have never had such an advantage before. From warfare, to terrorism, and even self-defense, we have only seen the cusp of what drones can do.
Quadcopters have taken aerial hunting and attacks out of the domain of scout helicopters and delivered it to the squad and individual level. In future conflicts, be they full-scale international wars, civil wars, or domestic unrest, use of drones will be commonplace. Their ease of use will make killing easier, enabling those who cannot or would not be soldiers or insurgents to participate in violence. Drones are a new threat as IEDs were and will be used in similar ways to both sniper attacks and bombings against civilian, military, and government targets.
Thanks to their inherent intelligence gathering nature and developing attack capabilities, drones have the ability to level the playing field or dramatically tilt in favor of the side with aerial assets. In a civil conflict or during the aftermath of a major destabilizing event, drones will play a huge part in both self-defense and any violence. Proliferation of small unmanned aerial systems will occur rapidly, so their potential impact and use in small paramilitary, irregular, and civilian hands deserves examination.
Part I: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems
Author Don Shift
Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and avid fan of post-apocalyptic literature and film who has pushed a black and white for a mile or two. He is a student of disasters, history, and current events.