Drone Attacks, A Real Threat Now?

KellyinAvon

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Cross post from the "Did WWIII just start?" thread is below. To answer the question in the thread title, remotely piloted aircraft used as guided missiles are absolutely a threat now.

At the risk of sounding like a certain group in the Nevada desert (the 432nd Operations Group to be exact) these aren't drones. The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper are remotely piloted aircraft. What the Houthis sent to the tank farm would be guided cruise missiles. The Air Force developed similar weapons to be launched and guided from bombers in WWII.

The expensive part of a cruise missile is the guidance. If somebody is do the flying from the ground all of need to do is crash it on the target. Don't need a laser designator, don't need a Hellfire. Depending on how it's launched (Desert Hawk used a giant slingshot and that was 15 years ago) don't need a runway.
 

T.Lex

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Is the bigger concern that we will be dragged into a foreign conflict or domestically attacked?

Well, that's just a risk of being America, right?

In terms of domestic attack, as Kelly notes, the tech for this isn't exactly proprietary. Seems to me a modern McVeigh wouldn't need a Uhaul, but a sturdy drone. Yeah, the immediate devastation wouldn't be as dramatic, but he could probably get away with more of it over time.

In WWII, Japan sent bombs on balloons across the Pacific. At some point, the range of these things might work out that you just program GPS coordinates and it can make a similar journey. Or have a proxy state in central or South America, I guess.

In terms of risk, though, an actual attack like this on CONUS (or Alaska/Hawaii) seems pretty remote.
 

Leadeye

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Not up on the tech, my questions would be what's the useful load on one of these things and can they be jammed? I can see them being shot down by some sort of CAP as they aren't really fast. My thoughts on drone jamming is that it's one of those ULTRA grade secrets that's only going to be used sparingly if at all.
 

T.Lex

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Hmm... upgraded V-2 basically.

Seemed like the damage was more extensive than what we think of as a "drone."

If it is GPS controlled, or flown with human input, it would be easy enough to vector around so as to hit from the west to give some plausible narrative that it came from Yemen. Minimally plausible.

Or... [wait for it]... a false flag operation. ;)
 

KellyinAvon

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Do the Saudis not have an air defense in place for assets such as this?
Have we seen anything on the specs of this aircraft? Depending on the size, the material it’s manufactured from, and the route it was flying it could’ve flown right through the air defense radars without being detected.
 

Alamo

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Do the Saudis not have an air defense in place for assets such as this?

The Kingdom does have an air defense radar system developed under the Peace Shield program (it's pretty cool air picture of the area too), plus E-3 AWACS planes, but I don't know if their equipment has the resolution for drones/cruise missiles, or if they have developed the procedures and tactics to use even if they detect them. If I knew all that I'd probably not be able to tell you anyway. I can tell you from my limited but personal experience is that the RSAF did seem to have the trouble with long term maintenance, whether it's maintaining long (boring) air surveillance or maintaining equipment. With Iran shooting missiles at them this may be changing though.
 

T.Lex

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Yeah, an unexpected flight in an apparently non-threatening flight pattern can get through the best air defense in the world.

Ask Matthias Rust.
 

KellyinAvon

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The Kingdom does have an air defense radar system developed under the Peace Shield program (it's pretty cool air picture of the area too), plus E-3 AWACS planes, but I don't know if their equipment has the resolution for drones/cruise missiles, or if they have developed the procedures and tactics to use even if they detect them. If I knew all that I'd probably not be able to tell you anyway. I can tell you from my limited but personal experience is that the RSAF did seem to have the trouble with long term maintenance, whether it's maintaining long (boring) air surveillance or maintaining equipment. With Iran shooting missiles at them this may be changing though.
IIRC the Saudis have the same Radar that’s in Iceland.
 

Alamo

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IIRC the Saudis have the same Radar that’s in Iceland.

Looks like everybody uses the same radar that's in Iceland. Wikipedia lists 28 nations using the FPS117 radar. (The main radar for the Peace Shield system, but it integrates other radars from army and navy air defense sites).
 
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