Drones have become one of the most ubiquitous weapons to come out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have given battlefield commanders unprecedented situational awareness and struck key targets all while keeping soldiers out of harm’s way.
In the future, unmanned aerial systems will hold even more utility as they become faster, stealthier and more autonomous, experts said. At the same time, they will become more accessible to foreign countries and terrorist groups around the world.
In a recent Center for a New American Security report titled, “A World of Proliferated Drones: A Technology Primer,” author Kelley Sayler found that foreign nations and non-state actors were quickly developing and adopting the technology.
“We are living, increasingly, in a drone-saturated world,” the report said. “Unmanned aerial vehicles have proliferated rapidly around the globe in both military and civilian spheres.”
More than 90 nations and non-state groups currently operate drones, and many of them can carry weapons, the report said.
“Thirty countries either have or are developing armed drones, including some non-state actors that have either integrated explosives into the drone itself or have claimed … to put releasable bombs or missiles on drones,” said Paul Scharre, a senior fellow at CNAS. “Not all of these countries are major military powers — far from it, in fact.”