There can be no doubt now that drone technology is revolutionizing the way America fights its war on terrorism. Before long, America’s military will phase out manned aircraft altogether. Well — for dangerous missions, anyway.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, America’s flying robots have sown terror in the hearts of the selfsame dispensers of terror. Groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda have no defence against the unmanned deliverers of death. They can run, which they’re doing with alacrity, but they can’t hide. At least not forever. Sooner or later the eye in the sky will find them, and when it does …
American military technology has turned the war on terrorism into a glorified video game, inflicting casualties on the enemy with impunity — and in that respect things are going to get a whole lot worse for them.
So far, Predator and Reaper drones, the size of conventional light airplanes, have been doing most of the damage. But the next generation of drones will be smaller. A lot smaller. Small enough so they can be designed to replicate birds or even insects — the fly on the wall scenario — the last word in surveillance capability.
Resembling birds and insects, with flapping wings so as to fly like them, the drones will completely blend into their surroundings. Hiding in plain sight, as it were.
Despite their tiny size, they will be equipped to kill as well as to gather intelligence. Moreover, the next generation drones will be able to fly by themselves, programmed to seek out specific targets marked either for surveillance or termination.
The thing of it is, all that stuff will be going on without the need for American boots on the ground — and that’s the biggest plus factor of all.
UPDATE (9 February 2012): An American drone on Thursday located and killed Badar Mansoor, al-Qaeda’s chief in Pakistan.
A senior Pakistani official, speaking off the record, said that Mansoor died in missile attacks that occurred overnight in Miranshah, and that his death was a major blow to al-Qaeda.