MANILA, Philippines – The terror group Islamic State (ISIS) demonstrated a way to turn good technology into something far more malicious with its use of commercial drones as a grenade-delivery weapon.
Typically used to capture footage from a bird's-eye view, the drones were weaponized – the use of which was first documented in Mosul, a city in Iraq, where Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are currently engaged in a campaign to drive out ISIS from the region.
Kurdish media outlet, Rudaw.net, reported that the group started to use the weaponized drones on the ISF in Mosul, resulting in civilian casualties and equipment damage. Without mentioning specific numbers, the damage being done by these drones is dropping, however, as US Army Colonel Brett Sylvia noted in the report.
The ISF also uses drones in their operations but not to deliver explosives.
Sylvia, who leads the US task force working with the ISF, said they have successfully taken down the drones – at least 12 of them – and that the number of drones being used is dropping. To counter them, gun-like signal-jamming devices bring down these deadly devices before they can deliver their payload.
Because the drones being used by the terror group do not carry military-grade technology, basic jamming countermeasures have reportedly worked effectively. Standard rifles have also been used to combat the relatively slow-flying commercial drones.
These were some of the captured drones as posted by retired US special forces officer Mitchell Utterback:
Three ISIS drones - all modified to drop small explosives - downed by ICTS in Mosul. Called "tieyara." Guys are constantly scanning for these flying robot snipers. #SKYNET is self-aware here. #warofthemachines A photo posted by Mitch Utterback (@mitchell.utterback) on Jan 12, 2017 at 8:53pm PST
#ISIS drone modified to drop small explosives like rifle grenades. A photo posted by Mitch Utterback (@mitchell.utterback) on Jan 7, 2017 at 11:55pm PST
As Popular Mechanics reports, this is not the first time that ISIS used drones as tools in warfare. They've been used as scouts, explosive decoys, and as single-use weapons in the past. They've also been used to film propaganda such as clips of exploding car-bombs.
Opposing forces have been able to neutralize them so far, but the report also warned that the weaponization of these off-the-shelf devices is a growing field of research among insurgents – and not just ISIS.
This means that in the continuing war against ISIS, it's likely that the seemingly innocuous drone – a mere gadget or toy for some – will continue to take on experimental, weaponized forms. – Rappler.com