Drone attacks are ‘big menace’ for US as military warned to ‘be ready’ for new stealthy warfare

Drone attacks have been identified as the primary threat to US troops stationed abroad, prompting an urgent request for $500million (£395million) in defensive measures.

These cost-effective, easy-to-use drones carrying explosives pose a risk comparable to the IEDs that caused thousands of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to lose their lives or suffer injuries, according to top military officials, US authorities, and experts.

“This is a new weapon system,” declared Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island and chairman of the Armed Services Committee. In January, a one-way attack drone deployed by Iranian-backed militants claimed the lives of three US soldiers in Jordan.


Military officials outlined their efforts to protect troops from drones using missiles, microwave radiation, and lasers, USA Today reports. The Pentagon is poised to receive more than $500 million through a supplemental request to Congress to combat the drone threat. President Joe Biden gave his approval on Wednesday as part of the $95 billion foreign aid package.

Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, has emphasised the pressing need for the Pentagon to quickly adapt to changing technology and tactics. He advocates for a dedicated fund to encourage innovative and cost-effective defence solutions that can jam signals guiding drones and deploy killer drones to target the enemy.

“They are a big menace,” O’Hanlon remarked, recalling the days when the US dominated the skies with drones like the Predator and Reaper. These drones were piloted from a Nevada desert base, firing Hellfire missiles at suspected militants in Afghanistan and Iraq, while troops deployed smaller drones for close-up reconnaissance.


A senior defence official, speaking anonymously, stated that the US’s era as the unrivalled drone superpower is over. The official pointed out that, given the widespread availability of commercial drones and their parts, it’s now impossible to stop the spread of technology that makes drones smaller, stealthier, and deadlier.

This new reality is evident from the Red Sea, where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels use drones to target vital shipping routes. It’s also coming from Iran, who unleashed a volley of drones and missiles towards Israel last week.

In both scenarios, the majority of the drones were destroyed before they could hit their targets. However, this feat requires a variety of defences and substantial spending. A US Patriot missile unit stationed in Iraq intercepted a ballistic missile targeting Israel, while two squadrons of fighter jets neutralised dozens of drones. Each Patriot missile interceptor comes with a hefty price tag of around $4million (£3.1million).

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