The Islamic State’s Deadly Drone Fleet

Podcast — quadcopters are dropping bombs on Mosul

The Islamic State’s Deadly Drone Fleet The Islamic State’s Deadly Drone Fleet
For the past decade, unmanned aerial vehicles have been a cornerstone of America’s campaign against Islamic insurgents in the Greater Middle East. Predator and... The Islamic State’s Deadly Drone Fleet

For the past decade, unmanned aerial vehicles have been a cornerstone of America’s campaign against Islamic insurgents in the Greater Middle East. Predator and Reaper drones crisscross the globe firing Hellfire missiles. Other countries have operational drone fleets, but few match the might and ubiquity of America’s.

But journalists on the front lines in Iraq have seen a disturbing new trend — Islamic State using retail quadcopters to drop their own munitions with surprising accuracy. Mosul is the front line in the fight against ISIS as well as the front line in a new arms race. One that pits the tiny drones of the Islamic State against the budding anti-drone technology of the West.

To be clear, Islamic State’s retail quadcopters dropping grenades and manufactured missiles is nothing compared to the power of a Predator firing off Hellfire missiles with pinpoint accuracy. But that’s cold comfort to an Iraqi soldier killed by a handmade explosive dropped from above over the streets of Mosul.

This week on War College, Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Kesling walks us through the drones of Islamic State. He’s just back from the fighting in Mosul and saw his share of quadcopters as well as the innovative solutions coalition and Iraqi forces are using to fight against them.


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