Modern Warfare: What a Drone Attack Looks Like and Which Ones Are Currently in Use

Modern Warfare: What a Drone Attack Looks Like and Which Ones Are Currently in Use

Conflicts such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine are an example of the importance they have acquired in the war. Here, the reasons and how they are used strategically.

THE drones Unmanned drones are positioning themselves as a very present tool in conflicts armed reality.

And as expected, Within this type of tools, there are different categories which allow air-sea operations.

For example, some have technological aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) which allow it to have a certain degree of autonomy and a lower risk of interference.

However, the costs associated with such devices are considerably higher compared to other options.

This is one of the reasons why First-person view (FPV) drones have been characterized as an effective alternative and more economical.

Roughly, These are guided by their pilots remotely and in real time. so that they can perform tasks ranging from surveillance to direct offensive.

Their monetary value contributed to their widespread use in contexts such as the defense of Ukraine against Russian invasion to name just one case.

The figures saved by The Economist specify that A GPS-guided projectile costs about $100,000. .

In exchange, A simple FPV drone can cost around $400 On average.

The differences in the numbers are notable. However, also There are other aspects that have improved the use of these devices in wars. and current conflicts.

Modern warfare: What a drone attack looks like and which ones are currently in use. Photo: Ukrainian servicemen from the Rarog drone squadron of the 24th separate mechanized brigade pilot a first-person view (FPV) drone near the town of Horlivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, January 17, 2024.

Types of drones used in current conflicts

The international analyst and academic of the Faculty of Government of the University of Development (UDD), Guido Larson, tells La Tercera that “From the point of view of use in conflict, we must differentiate between drones that have an intelligence vocation” .

In this category fall those who They perform tasks such as monitoring and obtaining information .

On the other hand, they are those used to conduct offensive operations that is, direct attacks.

“Even if we make a subdivision, we can say that There are drones that are used only once, whether for infantry attacks or otherwise. There are also those that, for example, are used to destroy ammunition. And other more common ones that can carry out multiple attacks with medium artillery or air-to-ground systems.

Larson points out that one of the differences between the present and the past is that Today, the number of drones used is greater. However, the phenomenon itself is not new. .

“If we look back at history, Some elements could be called “drones”. We can see this in the middle of the 19th century for example, when the Chinese were already occupying kites with fire. to attack certain positions. The same thing occupied Austria when it attacked Venice in 1849, with explosive balloons.”

“Afterwards, The issue is not so much the occupation of drones, but rather the volume which is used,” he emphasizes.

From your point of view, There are three essential factors that influence its use .

“The first is that They are cheap from a military resource point of view For example, surveillance that was previously carried out with airplanes, helicopters or even human intelligence, can now be done with drones that guarantee the safety of the operators.

Modern warfare: What a drone attack looks like and which ones are currently in use. Photo: Ukrainian military launches a FPV kamikaze drone on a frontline, amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, near the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine, December 12, 2023.

A second factor, Larson explains, is that “They allow a degree of protection – especially when defensive positions are taken, as in Ukraine – much higher than what happens with traditional infantry” .

To these points it is added that “There are extremely sophisticated air defense systems that neutralize human aviation” .

“This makes the systems autonomous or semi-autonomous particularly important “.

Among the variety of aerial drones that can be found, also There are some that were not originally designed for military purposes, but are modified to serve in this field.

“If we take the Ukrainian case, we generally use drones reconfigured to have a more military use. I think one of the elements is the price and the economic calculation, but also, and this is very important, the human capital necessary for operation. of this type of systems.

“For example, a civilian (in a military role) can take control of it and perform operations that may not be as sophisticated, but in which he can fly or drive a drone.

A different situation would be with devices like the Bayraktar TB2 which require greater preparation of the pilots.

“You have to take a course to learn how to fly them. They are much larger, have greater range and more significant technological features. “, explains the analyst.

Modern warfare: What a drone attack looks like and which ones are currently in use. Photo: A Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle is seen during a demonstration flight at the Teknofest aerospace and technology festival in Baku, Azerbaijan, May 27, 2022.

Strategies with these artifacts and the role of artificial intelligence

At the strategic level, Larson says that There are movements in which, for example, one drone takes on the role of monitoring enemy positions and another carries out direct attacks based on the coordinates given to it. the first.

Furthermore, We can see simultaneous offensives, in which several of these single-use devices are coordinated to go against the same objective. which otherwise (with only one such artifact) would be very difficult to destroy.

The international analyst and academic from the University of Valparaíso, Guillermo Holzmann, explains to La Tercera that The drone “swarms” aim to “secure the target by saturation” .

“They throw away so much that Radars are not able to report everything that happens and usually more than one reaches the target. This happens in a kamikaze logic, that is, they are destroyed on target.

Along with this, it ensures that “There are others of greater magnitude that launch precision missiles” .

As expected, it becomes a serious problem for the attacked targets .

Moreover, if we consider that “Not all defense systems have the ability to identify drones as they approach” .

“Often, when they get there, they’re already at the top. AND If it’s a swarm of drones, it’s even worse. (…) there is now a whole evolution to see how to defend ourselves against these devices,” adds Holzmann.

From his vision, in terms of strategic scope, its use can mean both a solution and a problem for those who use them.

“They are a solution because they allow us to do many things that could not be done before (…) but at the same time, they also pose a problem in how to integrate them into a much more coordinated strategy. Let us remember that today they are used for specific operations “.

Modern warfare: What a drone attack looks like and which ones are currently in use. Photo: A drone flies over the city skyline as air defenses fire during a Russian drone strike in kyiv, Ukraine, November 25, 2023.

The problem now comes from artificial intelligence “What Russia has discovered, for example, is that if they can disconnect the GPS, the drones are left alone, that is, they are vulnerable,” Holzmann explains.

This is when those who have AI and who present more and more advances acquire a key role, since “They don’t need communication because they already know what they have to do and they will do it immediately.” .

“There is a whole revolution where drones are being considered and, probably, the future war will be around them “If we go further, with space weapons, which are banned, but which are obviously still the subject of investigations. There is a whole military evolution here,” the analyst believes.

He nevertheless emphasizes that Today, drones are mainly used for specific missions and operations. It is not about developing strategies based solely on them.

“That’s to say, If they want to destroy enemy artillery, they send them to fulfill this objective, but not in the concept of a war (of drones as such) . In other words, they say, “We use drones first, then we do this, etc.”

Despite this, he emphasizes that “It’s changing very quickly” .

What is more complicated is that they do not need communication to fulfill their mission. The weakness is that they must be connected, with someone to manage them . But what if all it took was human resources to drop it and the drone would go away on its own because it knows what to do and then come back to land?

In this direction, GPS-guided ones promise to be less effective than those with an AI system with autonomy capability and a high degree of efficiency.

Yes this This would also be reflected in the economic costs .

As an estimate, Holzmann suggests that A drone with these features could cost a million dollars. .

This amount would be considerably higher than the figures cited at the beginning of this note, but it serious much smaller than a plane worth tens of millions of dollars (even more so if you think of a more expensive copy for comparison).

“All this development applied to drones will be doubly applied to civilian life. There is a leap forward in terms of the impact of technology . In other words, you will then have mini-tanks in drone format,” he suggests.

Below this line, sentence: “Drones, finally, are going to be the weapon of the 21st century. And with AI, they will undoubtedly become what every country wants.” .

Source: Latercera

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