Shooting Down DRONES: Does the Future of War Look Like Terminator Skeet?

A still from SilencerCo's tongue-in-cheek "Johnny Dronehunter: Defender of Privacy" promotional video for their Salvo 12 shotgun suppressor. Although intended as humor, the idea of using shotguns or similar weapons to take down small, inexpensive drones is perhaps not so far-fetched after all.

It’s no secret that the field of war is changing, and that fact is just as true for the infantryman as it is the F-35 Lightning II pilot. Increasingly, small, inexpensive, expendable drones are being used as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, as well as delivery platforms for light ordnance as well as kamikaze weapons. Today, the use of drones in this manner is in its infancy, but the next generation of purpose-built light combat drones is being designed and built right now. Israeli firms like Duke Robotics and UVision have already created armed and kamikaze (respectively) drone systems, and combatants in the Iraqi and Syrian Civil Wars famously used drones as delivery platforms for 40mm grenades. The use of civilian light drones as “snooping” devices has already spurred the development of anti-drone weapons for security forces, including both electromagnetic “rifles” that zap drones to take control of them, as well as more crude (but still effective) anti-drone shotgun payloads.

Purpose-built military ISR drones, however, will need new solutions. Their electronics will undoubtedly be hardened to electromagnetic attack, and their skins likewise will be reinforced with high strength kevlar fabrics or other armors that can repel low powered projectiles. Coupled with small size, speed, and maneuverability, this could make ISR drones a very difficult target to destroy for infantry forces.

Light fixed-wing drones are already a tough target to destroy, even for a whole firing line of machine guns.

The correct solution to this problem will only be revealed in time, but for now we can brainstorm some possible new solutions. Automatic weapons fire is an obvious answer, but a light fixed wing drone is a very difficult target to hit and destroy, even for a machine gun. Perhaps automatic shotguns like the much-hyped-and-little-used AA-12 could improve hit probability even further, but such weapons would almost certainly need to be augmented with special ammunition such as high velocity multiple flechettes to be able to penetrate the skin of a purpose-built military ISR drone, similar to those designed for the Close Assault Weapon System (CAWS) program of the 1980s. High energy lasers offer another possible solution, but the power needed for such weapons would probably require batteries or generators too heavy for dismounted troops to routinely carry. Improved electronic optics could allow legacy weapons to successfully engage drones, as well, but specialized small arms optical sights designed to engage fast-moving drones exist only in theory at the moment. Maybe some of the best solutions lie in creative “low tech” weapons: Could under-barrel 40mm grenade launchers fire net payloads to tangle and disable the propellers or rotors of drones, bringing them down for recovery or destruction?

Whatever the answer ends up being, future wars will almost certainly be ones with drones and weapons designed to kill them. What do you think the best way to bring down a drone is? Let us know in the comments section below!





Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Realist

    The first pic reminds of “Terminator Salvation”…

  • Gary Kirk
    • Dougscamo

      Now that is strange!

    • Brett baker

      Dude, Don’t dis one of the few 40mm rounds, we civilians can have!

      • Gary Kirk

        Wasn’t

  • Major Tom

    “What do you think the best way to bring down a drone is?”

    It’s called FIM-92 Stinger. Forget this business of expensive jammers and skeet shooting and just pack a few SAM’s in the Humvee/JLTV.

    If necessary, scale down the FIM-92 to something usable as an anti-drone SAM.

    • Iggy

      That sounds immensely expensive, and scaling done the missile just makes it more expensive.

      Skeet shooting and/or laser would be cheaper.

      • Major Tom

        Missiles have more uses than just drones however. Unlike hammers or specially designed skeet loads.

      • Samuel Millwright

        Ever hear of Lockheed MHTK?

        $5000 A shot and pretty much built for antidrone work!

        There’s an even cheaper old hypervelocity unguided rocket concept i dug up called swizzlestick…. 9000fps almost 2 mile range and 2 pounds each.

        • Kaban

          MHTK, provided the system can track and illuminate a drone, would have been excellent.

          • Samuel Millwright

            It can and does…

            Ever hear of the Army MML program….

            P.s. Lockheed is now offering slightly more expensive mhtk offshoots with blast frag warheads and multiple onboard seeker options.

            Also, there’s LRF/designator tech being worked which should give a human operator hefting an m4a1 with underslung m320 launcher loaded with a pike missile and said LRF/designator up top to successfully have a good chance of bagging drones at extended range.

          • Kaban

            What are MML’s capabilities against small, slow, low targets?

            As of Pike launcher, I don’t see handheld weapon as reliable target illuminator against small, “consumer” drone, unless there is robust tracking method built into it. Otherwise, the soldier will have hard time just keeping with drone’s evolutions.

          • Samuel Millwright

            The magic is really in steerable LRF/designator unit I’m talking about which has both the smarts and the moves and the software etc already inside it…

            Basically if you can keep the muzzle within +-20 degrees in both elevation and azimuth of directly aimed at the UAV you can jam a pike right up it’s s*** chute at 1200 meters out and 100 meters AGL !(Above Ground Level)

            If that were to prove insufficient stuff already for sure in the envg and it’s companion clip on thermal will provide a further layer of idiot proofing / defeat the inevitable lazing detectors triggering hard evasive maneuvering generation1+2 survivability upgrades drones will eventually integrate. There’s also burke pulsers, supersizing bill gates’ antimosquito laser zapper, fun with plasma, fun with vortexes, MEFP toys, exotic MEFP liner games, resurrected versions of American180/mgv-176 in .22 mag or 4.6 interdynamic extended range fumer projectile ultrahicap rimfire MKR rifle derivatives, and oh so much more… These are just the fairly cheap fairly fast to build something that’ll eat current drones for lunch and stay relevant for at least a few years out!

            P.s. the 4.6 Interdynamic extended range fumer projectile rimfire round is very real and was successfully built and tested by George Kellgren before he moved stateside. It literally has a hilariously effective drag reducing base bleed setup that lets you send a small but workable 4.6mm projo out beyond 300 meters extremely fast…

            It’s also very amenable to either a ring primer polymer case CT configuration or any other number of very low cost very small package implementations pretty easily.

            Or if 4.6mm is too small for yoyr comfort i believe it was frankford arsenal did a 5.56 FABRL fumer round too which would get you something like a VLD 44 grain 1000 meter per second plus MV base bleed round at under 45000 psi peak pressures that even using a brass case would be MUCH lighter per round and about the same COAL / base diameter of 5.56×45. This round would also have a crazy short flight time to 300+ meters and very minimal drop to boot making shifty little UAV targets easier to peg in multiple ways simultaneously with the ability and weight budget to throw out saturation barrages when warranted as a nice backup!

            Make the same round as a polymer case CT round and you’re now a bit shorter than 5.56×45, a BUNCH LESS RECOIL, & 40%-55% of the loaded cartridge weight of m855 per round… With some creativity and borrowing some conceptual stuff it’s really not far fetched to think something akin to a magpul pdr an hk mp7 or etc with 16-160 round mags could be carried holstered or under a light jacket whilst doing whatever you do with ease and a 300-600 round light duty ammo load to shoot your way through trouble and back to friendly lines with if u have to

    • RealitiCzech

      I doubt that a Stinger would be able to lock on the negligible heat signature of drones.

      • autofull– kevin horning

        everyone is correct on this one. go find the 80,s dillon remote control airplane shoot tape. the had everything all the way up to the minigun on a 50cal quad mt shooting at them at night with cylume sticks taped on them. it is a riot. maybe it is on you-tube. they had a very difficult time bringing them down, im gonna fire up the old vhs player and watch it again. check it out if you can. kevin.

  • Some Guy

    Aren`t there already systems which can easily deal with drones like the Rheinmetall MANTIS with the AHEAD Munition. That already can intercept mortar rounds with the 35mm airburst rounds so shooting down a drone or scalling that down(maybe to a 20mm) to fit on the back of truck should not be that hard.
    There are also AA laser in development like the Rheinmetall HEL that will probably become smaller so that distributing it to more ground units is possible(and even some air units to counter the threat before it can make your grunts miserable).

    • Renato H M de Oliveira

      Um, no.
      Drones are insanely small, and usually made from polymers and other materials that reflect very little radar waves.
      They’re also slow enough that air friction will be negligible, and Doppler shift will also be on par with birds, plus their weak engines generate very low heat, making them very hard to detect by our current means.
      So, the first link of the DIDEA (Detect, Identify, Decide, Engage and Assess) cycle is weak, therefore all the others will be compromised.
      Once you go all the way to Engage, AHEAD is way more expensive than many drones around, thus despite being very effective, the bang per buck isn’t there.
      The positive side of this equation is that drones are very susceptible to DEW (Direct Energy Weapons), which makes lasers a most effective way to shoot them down.
      Other options include jamming and using radars as mini-EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) weapons.

      • Some Guy

        I would guess that if the radar of the MANTIS can intercept a small mortar round at 20km a drone should be no problem(it officially can detect a RCS of 0,01m^2 at 20km already).
        The AHEAD ammunition is a lot less complicated than a drone(you only need two charges, a sensor, the pellets and a fuse) and a lot less material is needed so cost should be on the side of the AHEAD munition. Hitting with 152 pellets per round at 1050m/s should be sufficent(the number could be even higher if a dedicated anti drone shot would be developed)

        • Renato H M de Oliveira

          Single AHEAD shell, yes – but it still is a lot more expensive than a laser gun (~$1 per shot).
          And I guess nobody will shoot just one shell; it will most likely be a burst, some 3 shells or more.

          • Some Guy

            It is still to early to speculate about laser technology, there are to many problems that still need to adressed(battery mass, adverse weather conditions, heatdispursing coatings). They will probably overcome these obstacles(the Rheinmetall HEL seems promising).
            The cost effectivness of the AHEAD munition is most likly in favor of the defense. You must consider that the drone did not do damage to you troops and that a drone costs a lot more to manufacture, is harder to store and has some expensive equipment(camera, smart bomb). MANTIS can also deny the airspace to enemy mortar rounds, rockets and aircraft which is a great advantage.

          • Renato H M de Oliveira

            Oh, I’m not a MANTIS detractor – quite the opposite! I think it rocks!
            Lasers are the future. Bad climate will also deny the cheapo drones around.
            Israel is now developing the Iron Beam, which seems to be much like HEL.

  • noob

    Currently there is a program called the Perdix Drone which is a proof of concept by the Strategic Capabilities Office of the United States Department of Defense which has demonstrated ejecting a swarm of micro-drones from the decoy flare launcher of a fighter/attack jet.

    In a trial reported by the MIT Technology Review on January 10th 2017, 103 Perdix drones were deployed from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The Perdix drones are leaderless and not controlled from a base station, but are designed to have a distributed AI which allows them to continue the mission as the swarm “degrades” due to enemy action.

    Currently they all just carry a crappy webcam for “surveillance”.

    But there is no reason why you couldn’t fit half of them with a payload the same mass as the camera, say 60 grams of RDX and steel prefrag.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d018eed148e7e2f9df1272ec262062aace72d563728f75c4172a8286fcfc24bc.jpg

    • Mr._Exterminatus

      I like that idea. I’m sure it’s already available for use or is being developed now and we just don’t know about it.

      • Samuel Millwright

        Pretty much fits any number of white world efforts some of which went black later yeah….

        Also von neumanns war… People should read it.

    • Risky

      The future of air defense is going to be autonomous, micro-drone kamikaze swarms. All it will take to take down any aircraft, manned or unmanned, will be for a few dozen micro drones to match-maneuver the aircraft for just a few moments in order to detonate against the fuselage. We’re very close to having that on a small, single attack scale and a few decades away from having massive million drone swarms locking down the skies from enemy aircraft.

      • noob

        If you have a big enough swarm you could just fly in front of an attack aircraft like a malicious flock of seagulls and let a few drones get ingested by the jet engines.

        Deep underground there would be an autonomous factory building the things on 3d printers like the MarkForged Metal X or DesktopMetal Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing printers. The micro-drones would be charged up with enough juice to climb to a high perch and then they could sit in the sun filling their batteries and waiting for the call.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/844954f622af347b9c6e825d83040d653c1cd93121a70bcf1f85ad13f02711d7.jpg

  • Kaban

    Playing Romulan anti-air specialist: I think ground-based, compact, possibly vehicle-mounted, radar+IR/multispectral Phalanx-CIWS-like installation might be viable. It works for missiles!1

    A variety of issues arise. Drones are small, and not nearly as hot as conventional airplanes, choppers and rockets, thus ever-useful IR sensors might not cut it here. Radar should be capable of reliably detecting and tracking an object with exceedingly small cross-section. Ditto for LIDAR. Still, it is probable that reliable combination of sensor could be implemented.

    Once a drone is detected and tracked, anything capable of saturating the air with armor-piercing projectiles of sufficient energy will, without doubt, severely affect integrity of airframe and overall operational capability. Which bring us a second problem: ROE issues. Unlike incoming missile, drone might come from arbitrary direction, up to the point of flying lower that weapon system, teasing it to open fire and kill a few friendlies who just happen to be there.

    Lasers might not cut drone in half like real Jedi will, but they are excellent at supressing/damaging visual/IR sensors. Until drone designers wise up and use properly coated optics (which will happen soon). Still, dazzling the optical system may be beneficial and at least impare drone operator’s “vision” of tactical situation.

  • Iggy

    Honestly, even if armored most drones aren’t going to take a shotgun blast well. Even if it’s not necessarily penetrated, if can’t compensate for being hit it’ll fall out the sky anyway.
    But thinking a bit more outside the box, instead of armor piercing rounds use a high velocity glue filled paint ball gun using the targeting system from the lasers. Gum up the sensor and engines and induce all kinds of random drag on the drone that it eventually can’t compensate for.
    Also aerial mines and nets strung between balloons could be fun.
    And your own fleet of counter-drone drones, so you can have lots of nasty mini-drone dogfights taking place over the battlefield.

    • Kaban

      Glue-filled projectiles sound interesting. Less energy -> less travel of missed projectiles -> less stray hits.

      Also, it is very Ghost in the Shell-like 🙂

      • DW

        Bukakke all over enemy drones?

  • Uncle Dan

    Don’t overthink it.

    Load 40mm rounds with bigger Tungsten Supershot No. 2s. Turkey hunters are killing birds out past 100 yards with #9s. I’d go Improved Mod choke for drones.

    It would be tremendous for anti-personnel work; far more devastation than the old 4 Buck 40mm round. Skeet-Skeet-Skeet death.

  • Risky

    Even most consumer grade drones are capable of flying well out of effective shotgun range (even with flechette-type ammo). Furthermore, detection of UAS is going to be a bigger problem… can’t kill it if you never know it’s there. Even the basic Phantom platforms I fly regularly can barely be detected by sound at 300 feet agl. Forget about seeing it unless you know where exactly to look. Unless the UAS is flying straight at you kamikaze-style you’ll be hard pressed to have the chance to shoot one.

    • Samuel Millwright

      So radio direction finding, gunshot finders, networked camera arrays using a simple program to *redacted* a d *redacted* and *redacted* plus don’t forget *redacted* AND celldar as the cherry on top will pretty much fix that s*** REAL QUICK…

      Have your setup project a range and lead compensated pipper to your saiga 12 and you pretty much have all the fun of skeet shooting and duck hunting with no bag limits or magazine size restrictions!

  • Brett baker

    Kill the controller, kill the drone. M855a1 is a lot cheaper than specialty shotgun rounds.

    • Kaban

      There is a joke about old lady selling bunches of smelly plants on flea market. When asked what is it, her answer was:

      – Oh, it is mighty stuff. Excellent against cocroaches. You see, you should take a bunch in your hand like this, – and she takes one in her hand – and now you go and watch for dam’ roaches. Once you see one, jump on him, and SMACK-SMACK-SMACK-smack him with the bunch, until poor creature is as dead as doorknob.

  • Stuki Moi

    You are very likely to have to fight cheap swarming drones, with other cheap swarming drones. As soon as a more expensive, comparatively stationary anti drone weapon fires, its exact position is revealed, and it will be attacked by anti-anti-drone-drones…..

    In the end, it all leads back to the age old dictum that logistics wins wars. Whomever can build, fuel and deploy drones the cheapest, can build/fuel/deploy the most of them. Giving them “drone superiority,” by overwhelming competing swarms.

    Think an infantry unit never leaving home without a couple of drones per fighter. Most of them being carried inert and compacted, but a fraction always flying as a “shield”, and as an eye-in-the-sky. Rotating in and out with the compacted ones, as fuel runs out. And with prepackaged pallets full of reinforcement drones and fuel, ready to be airdropped at short notice, should an engagement lead to excessive attrition, or a need for a higher number of drones.

  • Edeco

    11-87’s and training by Kim Rhode

  • idahoguy101

    Reintroduce AA guns firing shells with proximity fuses. Welcome back a WW2 technology

  • Ryfyle

    Welcome to the Return of 10ga Magnum. Steel shot should be more than enough to kill a Fancy Parrot drone.

    • Edeco

      Maybe like a 8 gauge 4″ extra-high-brass shell, like a kiln gun shell with 3.5 oz #6 buck or so from an automated platform. Have to teach it not to bust a cap on birds or dragonflies.

      • Tassiebush

        I want one of those but just to see what it brings down. Black Swans, pelicans, sea eagles, crows, gulls, wattle birds, duck, possums that climb too high into trees and the trees themselves when the wind blows. It’d be really interesting!

        • Dougscamo

          Interesting but illegal for the taking of crows and ducks anywhere in the States….and in Virginia, nothing for hunting, period, larger than 10 gauge….plus most of the others you mentioned are protected species.
          Of course, an 8 gauge or larger is legal to possess in shotgun form….
          Question: Are your possums the same as our opossums?

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah it would be totally illegal here. I certainly meant it tongue in cheek. I do have all of those flying over the house though but most are protected. Crows here (they’re actually ravens but we call them crows) are one of the few species not protected. Ducks must be taken in season with relevant game licence and nothing exceeding a 12gauge. Swans used to have a season but haven’t for a long time. Same with our wattle birds which only live in Tasmania.
            Our possums and your opossums are distantly related. Probably a bit like deer and antelope. Both marsupials as I understand it. We’ve got a few species with the ringtail possum and brushtail possums being most common. Brushtails are very common and one of the main pests but for some bizarre reason they can only be taken with a crop protection permit or commercial licence. Their fur is really good! It has hollow hairs like a polar bear or artic fox. The New Zealanders have developed a solid industry around them (feral species there) using possum fur and wool blend. They certainly exceed pre European numbers now so it’s highly questionable why they’re protected. Historically they along with wallaby were the basis of a fur industry here which gave people usually employed as farm labourers winter income up in the hills and mountains where the coats were thickest.

          • Dougscamo

            Okay, looked up Australian possum and they showed brushtails first crack out of the hat. Recognized it from the movie “Willow”. Your possum is much better looking than ours! Never thought I would hear myself saying that…lol….!
            Kill every crow I can but they have a season on them here which is ridiculous; they are huge pests. Ravens, not so much….love to listen to them while I hunt whitetails…very entertaining and very loud! But they have led me to wounded or dead whitetails more than once!

          • Tassiebush

            With crows (ravens) they pull out sprouting crops and less often poke out lamb eyes. Peas and oats get picked out. Agreed they’re kind of neat but certainly destructive. We don’t have access to tannerite but they make a decent stand in…

          • Dougscamo

            Okay, had to look up your crows (ravens)….you are keeping me busy on Wiki tonight 🙂 Ours are much longer lived…. and not disposed to the mischief yours are…unlike our crows (crows) which explode quietly….

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah they’re called forest ravens

          • Tassiebush

            It’s really interesting learning about each other’s wildlife and game etc.

          • Tassiebush

            Hey I think I just sent you an email?

          • Tassiebush

            Hehe regarding possum aesthetics

        • Edeco

          I’m all about killing trees, raptors and migratory birds. Laws permitting of course. But your possums are adorable! I googled it, thinking we might have made you an invasive present again. Ours are horrible.

          • Tassiebush

            Haha yeah they are sweet in an evil b@stard way! I get the impression that the North American variety can be a bit agro.

          • Tassiebush

            The main issues with them are things like they’ll climb up into fruit trees and eat the buds while breaking the branches. They also eat other vegetables and fruits. They are known to occupy roofs as well and will dance on the roof when you try to sleep. They sound like a case of demonic possession when mating too. For people with tank water they’ll crap all over the roof.
            This stuff not withstanding I must admit I have often been a bit soft and spared young possums doing the wrong thing including one that got in via the cat flap and hid behind the fridge.

          • Edeco

            Ooooh my gerd what wonderful little rascals. I think our species branched off when someone got one of yours wet or fed it after midnight.

          • Dougscamo

            I’ve got to ask you this….is your avatar a muntjac or a water deer?

          • Edeco

            Nope, Siberian musk deer! Kind of my spirit animal.

          • Dougscamo

            That was my third choice….
            Hmmm, a vampire-like bifurcated ruminant? Guess that makes as much sense of mine being 2 cops dragging away a clown….

          • Edeco

            Yup, cult of the hypothetical musk deer deity… the musk deity. Long story, I learned the concept of costly signalling as an adult. Fun on it’s own; colorful, bawdy, but also it correlates to simplicity vs sophistocation. Like burning calories on useless stuff to spread genes? It might work but it’s byzantine. That’s another fun concept to me.

            Your avatar I was thinking might be a snarky comment on the military-industrial complex and/or police-state vs anarcho-capitalism? McDonalds being a symbol of the latter…

          • Dougscamo

            Nothing that deep on my choice of avatars as I am only shallowly snarky….it related to a comment I made about what should happen to our carpetbagging senator, who is anti gun, and supposedly shows him being dragged away from an elementary school playground….
            Love those sausage, egg, and cheese McMuffins, btw!

          • Tassiebush

            Haha Edeco and I had that conversation a few years back too!

          • Tassiebush

            Got an erm possum wet…
            I swear I saw our type kill Santa!

  • DangerousClown

    I would consult with Iraqi and Afghan rebels. They seem to have low tech solutions to high tech problems.

  • Hinermad

    I’m working on (okay, “daydreaming”) of a civilian hunter drone that intercepts another drone that’s violating one’s privacy and webs it with Silly String until the target can’t fly any more. (I want to keep the target drone once it comes down. Those things are expensive, y’know?)

  • hikerguy

    Anti-drone drone. It can have weapons mounted to take out the other drone. You can also triangulate to see where the signals are coming from and deal with the operator.

  • b0x3r0ck

    The only way to combat drones is with other drones. Really the ideal of high quality low cost infantry soldiers become retarded in light of cheaper drones. The future war fighter going to be low quality high cost special forces troops with all the tools to just evade drones altogether(stealth for the warrior). Once we start talking about swarms VS current platoon size troops there no winning against that.

  • gunsandrockets

    Blind the Micro Drone with rifle mounted lasers

  • Samuel Millwright

    Also… You could straight up steal the Russian “shotgun” concept that uses a modded 7.62×39 or x54r case and paradox bore sks amd ak rifles which legally become shotguns because they’re only rifled a few inches at the muzzle!

    That alone is plenty of potential for diverse and varied antidrone goodness, but could be taken so much further… Imagine if you will taking a standard 5.56 or 7.62×51 case and basically almost completely blowing out the shoulder. (just short of where you get problems with magazine reinforcement ribs) Now make yourself an 8-10 inch smoothbore or shallow rifling bbl that either takes a suppressor or a mild taper bore attachment. (bonus points for those smart enough to do it so you’ve got a modular 2 part reflex suppressed sabot compatible ever so mildly choked taper bore and a standard reflex suppressor front end)

    Now make a cross between a sabot and a shot cup and fill it with a stack of Robinson type salvo squeezebore stacking bullets or other payload of your choice…

    Congratulations you have now accomplished a bunch of things in one task/weapon design.

    1. A subsonic heavy bullet short bbl suppressed thumper which

  • Bierstadt54

    I love shotguns. But they don’t have enough range to do the job in a military setting.

  • demophilus

    IMHO, a one size fits all solution won’t work. It’s going to be a system of systems empowering the warfighter, etc., etc.

    My bet would be with specialty 12 ga. and 40mm loads for short range work on small drones, as the launchers are in inventory. Apart from projectiles or netting, thermobaric, EFP, MEFP or EMP loads with proximity fuses may work. Small drones may not have much of a heat signature, but most electric motors generate magnetic stray fields, and that may work for both detection and proximity fusing.

    Also bear in mind that there are drones that can be launched from 40mm or mortar tubes. So that could give you further counter-drone tech down at the platoon level.

    After that it’s drone on drone, or various forms of electronic attack. Some AESA radar systems allegedly have DEW or HPM applications. A helicopter borne system like Longbow Apache might be tweaked to zap drones. IIRC, ELINT or EW platforms like the EA-6 or EF-18 can sweep an area with jamming energy; I think they called it a “courtesy burn”, when providing anti-IED cover for convoys in Iraq. Scale that down to the Predator or Reaper, etc. and you might have another tool for the toolbox.

    Also bear in mind that lasers or masers can be used for targeting, as in LIDAR, and they can also deliver an EMP kill; they don’t have to burn the target. Google “pulsed impulsive kill laser”; that’s a white world program that disappeared a while ago. IIRC, it used low energy femtosecond pulses to quickly create a plasma bubble on the target, a static charge that eventually exploded like lightning. Think something like a long range Taser, or stun gun. A lot of stun guns run on 9 volt batteries. It’s not the voltage that gets you; it’s the frequency. Translate that to an anti-drone system, and you might not need big batteries at all. It might scale down to a squad or platoon level package, maybe even something that can be used as a designator when you don’t have to zap drones.

    Google “compulsator” or pulsed alternator too. A standard vehicle like a Humvee, JLTV or Stryker can theoretically generate a fair amount of peak power in small doses, more than enough to zap a small drone.

    After that you got MANPADS, AAA, SAMs, etc., etc. for the larger systems and threats. Killing drones is doable. It just won’t be any one hammer driving the nails.

    Look at it this way. In 1913 there were pretty much no combat aircraft. In 1918 there were lots. A lot of the doctrine of aerial combat was invented in 5 years from a standing start. Necessity is the mother of invention.

  • Imran

    Sorry but am I the only one who laughed at “Does the future look like terminator skeet?”

  • TNaverrone

    So we’ll acknowledge that new intel gathering tech like drones are altering the battlefield as we know it, but not when considering how purpose-built ISR drones fielded by peer-adversaries on an open battlefield might effect average engagement ranges for infantry?

    What if the premium placed on intel and vision in the drone age makes life particularly difficult for any infantry force to *close with* and engage the enemy in close combat before the enemy knows they’re there, regardless of any much needed improvements to soldier mobility through reduced load weight?

    Tac air and indirect fire? That assumes we’ll enjoy unfettered air superiority, and peer adversaries haven’t been slacking on their mobile air defense capability. As for indirect fire, what if counter-battery capability complicates life for indirect fire elements enough that it isn’t always there when you call for it?

    My main question is how do you expect infantry engagement range to be the only remaining facet of warfare to remain constant given the fundamental changes we’re seeing throughout all other aspects of warfare; if not generally, then at least in the very specific scenario of US or NATO forces engaged against a peer or near-peer adversary in a given region?