Hezbollah has conducted its first strike using an attack drone in Syria. Drones will require innovative counter-terrorism solutions.
The Iranian backed militia group Hezbollah used an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to drop cluster bombs on a village in Syria and released footage of the attack on Tuesday.
This attack marks the first time Hezbollah has used attack drones to carry out bombing raids, despite having used drones for reconnaissance or one-use “kamikaze” style attacks in the past.
The Islamic State is known to also have reconnaissance drones and is feared to have bomber drones as well. “The Government has evidence that Daesh has used small, commercially available unmanned aerial vehicles in Syria and Iraq to extend their surveillance capability, produce propaganda material and carry small improvised explosive devices” the UK’s Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay said at the end of July.
A NATO chemical weapons expert warns that such drones could be fitted with chemical weapons such as World War One mustard gas, while former head of the British navy Admiral Lord West warned “If they are using them there, then in fact they are probably even easier to use them here because you can get them so much easier.”
In July the Pentagon requested an additional $20 million to combat Islamic State drone capabilities.
So how can terrorist attack drones be combated?
One innovative approach being considered by police in the Netherlands is training eagles to rip drones from the skies. The birds see drones as prey and are capable of immobilizing a drone and carrying it to a safe place without any people.
Interceptor drones are another possibility. In December 2015 Tokyo police launched a program of interceptor drones which carry nets with which to ensnare unauthorized drones.