Battle drones are autonomous aerial vehicles used in military operations. Based on their applications, there are two types of “combat drones”: Those that are used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes, and those that are loaded with missiles and bombs. 

The widespread use of remote-controlled vehicles for combat has increased in the last one decade. Unlike manned aircraft, drones can fly for more hours and are much cheaper than the contemporary “military aircraft.” Also, battle drones present less dangers to the flight crew who run the vehicle from a remote terminal. For instance, the British and U.S. Reeper and Predator drones were used in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they were remotely controlled via satellite from Nellis and Creech UAF base outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Battle drones can also react more quickly than human-controlled fighting jets even though they lack human sensibility. Armed drones are operated in such a way that one person flies the vehicle, another person oversees its camera and sensors, and the other person mainly contacts the ground troops and commanders in the battle field. 

Countries that manufacture and use “flying vehicles” for fights include the U.S., Israel, China, Pakistan, and Turkey. Israel, for instance, made a groundbreaking discovery in the use of drones for real-time surveillance, electronic warfare, and decoys when the country deployed drones to completely inactivate the Syrian air defenses at the start of the Lebanon war in 1982. The deployment was largely successful as no pilot was reportedly drowned. Iran also pioneered the use of combat drones when it unfolded a drone armed with six RPG-7 rounds in the Iran-Iraq war in the late 80s. The U.S. Air Force and the CIA run two separate squadrons of remote controlled armaments, most especially in the battle against terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. As at 2015, the U.S. governments have used over 80 of its armed drones in Afghanistan and Iraq, a move that has helped reduced terrorism. 

The use of drones has generated lots of criticisms. Many believe attacking humans with remote-controlled machines is even more abstruse than the use of traditional warfare like missiles, weapons, and aerial bombardment. According to them, to a large extent, this depersonalizes the basis for attack even though battle drones often reduce casualties among attackers. Machine failure can be more disastrous than human error. This makes the use of UAVs for combat somewhat politically dubious. Additionally, the use of aerial vehicles to kill humans has generated more public outrage as it is a deviation from the traditional men against men combat. The attackers are relatively safe, while the enemies are brutally attacked not as humans, but as blips on screens from an unseen distant location.

A UN special investigator on extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, Philip Aston declared in his report that the use of UAVs is more targeted at killing than combating, thus raising human rights violations concerns. In his report, he has asked the U.S. governments to specify the reasons for their decision to attack with drones rather than capturing suspected criminals. According to his findings, the use of drones for combat has perpetuated the unjust killings of innocent civilians. Well, the U.S. government is yet to specify such measures that will curtail this brutality. 

In conclusion, manufacturers of battle drones have focused on using these flying machines for non-military purposes. They believe that the technology behind combat machines can be applied in making remote sensing drones for civilian purposes. This includes domestic surveillance, facial and behavioral recognition, and monitoring of conversations among individuals. 

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  • Alex R
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