On December 31, 2017, a warning shot went across the bow for both Russia and the world when 13 armed homemade drones penetrated Russia’s Hmeimim Air Force Base and Tartus naval supply ship in Syria.
To date, the attacks have gone unclaimed, despite Putin’s initial assertion that Turkey played a hand in the attack. The Kremlin now claims to know who attacked both locations and that the drones were, in fact, far more sophisticated than countless photos and news reports would have you believe.
According to CNBC, seven drones were shot down, while the Russian military seized control of six others. Russia insisted for close to a week that, under Turkey’s influence, Muwazarra, a village more than 50 miles from Hmeimim, was responsible. However, residents of the area staunchly reject the accusation. Mohanned Issaf, a 27 year old local summed up the sentiment of the locals: “We reject the Russian accusations completely. . . . The village has always come under shelling, and the regime and Russia don’t need an excuse to bomb us. But now they might bomb more after these false accusations.”
After over a week of public accusations pointed at Turkey, and by extension the village of Muwazarra, the Kremlin publicly stated they no longer felt Turkey perpetrated the attack, and would only call the attackers “terrorists.” With blame being tossed around, and Muwazarra sitting in the middle of potential retaliation, facts have come to light that may change the course of modern warfare.
The drones used in the attack were made of cheaply-assembled plywood, attached to an engine comparable to ones used to power lawn mowers. The rockets carried by the drones could have been dropped from the craft or used as bombs. The parts used to make the drones in the attack can be found in a garage or can easily be purchased at a local hardware store, and the directions for building such drones can be found on quite a few websites.
If a person felt lazy, they could order a craft for as little as $100 to a few thousand dollars to minimize their labor. This makes modern warfare affordable to all.
Because the range of these unmanned instruments can go from 2.5 to over 60 miles, and the drone’s air time is steadily increasing, an individual could disrupt or cripple a city like New York without leaving their home. Thanks to sites and forums all over the web, designs can be refined without the aid of federal military dollars. Paul Scharre, who previously worked for the Pentagon on unmanned and autonomous systems and emerging weapons technology, made this point painfully clear: “We have seen nonstate actors use armed drones in the past, but this is a significant step up in terms of the scale of attacks and just how many they were able to use simultaneously.“
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