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Commercial drone gets shot down by military missile

15 March 2017

According to US General David Perkins, a Patriot missile, which costs approx. £2.5 million, was used to shoot down an average quadcopter.

Patriot (Credit: Shutterstock)

First reported by the BBC and via a speech posted on YouTube by the US Army, General David Perkins said “that quadcopter that cost 200 bucks from did not stand a chance against a Patriot”. 

Patriot is a radar guided, surface-to-air missile (SAM) system designed to target other missiles or enemy aircraft. 

Even though the Patriot missile made short work of destroying the quadcopter, General David Perkins suggests that perhaps this is not the most economically wise method to alleviating threats from unknown sources. Using a £2.5M missile to shoot down a small quadcopter is “not a good economic exchange ratio” he told an audience at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force symposium in Alabama.  

The missile wasn’t actually fired by the US but by someone General David Perkins describes as “a very close ally”…

Colin Bull, Principal Consultant Manufacturing and Product Development at SQS comments; “the news from Gen David Perkins that a £2.5M Patriot missile has been launched to shoot down a small commercial drone, highlights the need for regulatory action to be prioritised as a matter of global urgency. If drones fall in to the wrong hands, there’s currently nothing to stop someone flying a payload laden drone into restricted airspace, without action such as this taking place. Clearly, using expensive military missiles is not the answer due to the fact a missile worth £2.5M being used to eliminate a $200 (£164) drone is overkill and potentially ineffective.”

“Rather than using expensive military resources to deal with potentially rouge drones, implementing regulation and the standardisation of radio frequencies, on which drones operate, is vital to combat such threats. Ultimately, this makes it easier for security teams to use jamming devices to stop a suspect drone from entering the space. Ensuring there are strict regulations in place means that the use of drones can be better controlled. Alongside putting regulations in place should be security measures. As with any connected technology, drones are at risk of being hacked by cybercriminals, meaning software programming needs to be considered more seriously in the development phase.” 

“Despite the obvious benefits of drones, they must be embraced and feared in equal measures. They might look pretty innocent, but on closer inspection, what you find can be terrifying. Putting it bluntly, these devices are in fact a flying payload system with the ability to deliver anything (including incendiary devices or grenades) in to uncontrolled airspace in the way that only Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) have been able to do in the past.” 

Video courtesy of the Army Materiel Command Headquarters (General David Perkins speech at approx. 15 minutes)

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