Well, logic dictates that it was probably the only weapon at that time that could reach the drone, and besides, what was the drone doing near a military facility anyway? This unique incident points out the bigger problem as more drones show up on a battlefield, or near military installations. This incident became known on Monday when General David Perkins, the commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) spoke at the symposium for the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force (AUSA). His discussion focused on the threats the US military could be facing soon in the coming years. One notable example is how a U.S. ally recently shot down a $200 consumer drone using a $3 million Patriot missile.
The talk and discussion given by Perkins at the symposium focused on the complexity of a military organization in the field, and how the interconnected nature of air, ground, and sea forces can lead to either a fragmented or confused response to a threat or perceived threat between the commanders who are in charge of specific areas. His one specific example of how this can occur on a battlefield also made the problem clear to everyone. At present, there is no way to properly identify if an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) is either civilian in nature or hostile.
When this happens, the gut instinct is that, “this is an air defense problem, because they’re in the air.” So, when a close ally had to deal with a supposed unidentified adversary using a small quadcopter UAS by shooting it down with a Patriot missile, the issue isn’t effectiveness, because the system proves to be effective if it can shoot down something as small as a drone. The issue isn’t even overkill, because a blip on radar can be anything dangerous from a fighter plane to even a drone carrying IED’s. But the issue here now is simple economics.
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On the far end of the situation, whoever was flying the drone now knows that they can easily undermine the enemy even if they have expensive missiles. All they need to do is to buy more cheap drones and fly them, running up the operational costs of that country’s military. Or worse, in a battlefield situation, they could simply let fly with cheap drones and as soon as the other side runs out of Patriot missiles, they can let fly with their own missiles or whatever else they have to hit back.
Perkins notes that the solution to this in the future is for any commander to recognize the nature of the issue from the start. Rather than responding immediately to the problem as a threat to which a missile is usually an appropriate response, it’s better to find solutions across the larger military organization that presents a more appropriate response. After all, when a fly buzzing around is a nuisance, a fly swatter is the more appropriate response rather than a shotgun. One viable solution is to also have drones of your own that can be launched to investigate the threat.