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Commercial Off-The-Shelf Drones: A Chance to Start Winning the Economic Exchange?

Gareth Anderson
RUSI Defence Systems, 8 June 2017
Land Operations, Military Sciences, Equipment and Acquisitions, Land Forces
Commercial drones are cheap assets that have the potential to be exploited by innovative military organisations. Their combat potential is already being explored by adversarial groups; not taking the initiative now could leave Western forces at a relative disadvantage

In mid-March, General David Perkins, the head of the US Training and Army Doctrine Command, announced that a ‘very close US ally’ shot down a small $200 drone, using a $3 million MIM-104 Patriot missile.

This encounter with a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) drone did not pose any physical danger, but demonstrated the gap in force-appropriate responses to the threats posed by low-value drones.

Speaking at a RUSI roundtable in January, Perkins noted that the West is overwhelmingly on the winning side of the kinetic exchange with adversarial groups. However, when it comes to the economic exchange, there is a massive disparity as seen by the shooting down of a cheap quadcopter using a very large multi-million dollar piece of ordinance.

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