‘Drones are of great interest to the Army – as both a threat and an opportunity’
Minister claims that military is keeping tabs on potential battlefield uses of unmanned aerial technologies
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The Army is keeping a close eye on the role of drones could play on the battlefield of the future – both as a weapon and a potential threat, according to a government minister.
James Heappey, the minister for the Armed Forces, said that military personnel are actively exploring how British soldiers might be able to use drone technology, as well as studying its current operational use in conflict in other parts of the world.
In a written parliamentary question from fellow Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, the minister was asked whether the Ministry of Defence “has assessed the potential impact of drone warfare on the Army doctrine” – the core documentation of which was last updated in March 2017.
Heappey responded that “the Army is continually assessing the potential impacts of technology on the character of land conflict”.
“The emergence of uncrewed air systems technology on the battlefield is of great interest to the Army both as a threat and opportunity,” he added. “The Army has conducted numerous experiments into how to harness this technology to its advantage. Similarly, the Army has drawn lessons from the use of uncrewed air systems in Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Iraq, Syria, and Libya and is considering how to apply them effectively in doctrine.”
The 2017 update to Army doctrine included acknowledgement of the threat from drones – including by beligerents outside of the official armed forces of the state.
“The proliferation of commercially available technology means that secure communications, cyber capabilities, and surveillance systems including unmanned air systems are easily acquired or improvised, even by irregular forces,” it said.
In recent years, the Army has deployed a number of drone models – mostly unarmed vehicles used for reconnaissance.
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