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Defending Against Drones

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hobbyist-vs-terrorist dept.

The Military 368

theodp writes "The US has not had to truly think about its air defense since the Cold War. But as America embraces the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, Newsweek says it's time to consider how our greatest new weapon may come back to bite us. Smaller UAVs' cool, battery-powered engines make them difficult to hit with conventional heat-seeking missiles. And while Patriot missiles can take out UAVs, at $3 million apiece such protection carries a steep price tag, especially if we have to deal with $500 DIY drones."

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Defense? (2, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296478)

Defense? The purpose of the US military as per the US Constitution? Heck, our military and political leaders forgot about defense a loooong time ago. It's been all about offense since the end of WWII. The US hasn't been involved in any military action that we didn't start in the first place, so this should be a tough one for the brass to wrap their heads around.

Re:Defense? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296490)

War is Peace

Attack is Defence

Slavery is Freedom

Re:Defense? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296680)

And, don't forget:
"We're from the gubbermint, and we're here to help you." For best effect, talk with a John Wayne drawl, and tack a "Pilgrim" to the end of the sentence. ;^)

Re:Defense? (4, Funny)

smallfries (601545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296944)

Sigh, just another attempt to turn some simple engineering problem into politics.

I happen to have some experience in this area and I can say for certain that if there are no creeps on the floor, any wave of drones is easy to kill. I would start by erecting a line of towers with simple pellet guns, upgrading the weak points to snipers as necessary. Squirt towers will provide a layer of depth to your defence, but ideally you want a fully upgraded bash tower to take out ground creeps quickly enough that your guns can focus on the drones.

If you'll excuse me, I feel the need for just one more try...

Re:Defense? (4, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296524)

Yeah, those USD500 drones aren't gonna fly across the pacific, atlantic or artic oceans anytime soon.

Still cheap drones might be useful for attackers already in the USA. I wonder how many patriot (or similar) banks are deployed in the USA.

But if people are willing to die, it's going to be hard to stop them if they're not too stupid. The drone then is the human+payload+vehicle.

Maybe they should just spend a few millions getting those young angry guys laid... That should de-drone a few of them. A "bird" in each arm might be worth 72 houris in wherever-land. :).

Re:Defense? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296766)

Hey! Just because I haven't got laid doesn't make me a terrorist. And that's even including me accepting the fact that then I'm dead I'm dead and that's it, no 72 virgins to rescue me in the afterlife.

They have *already* crossed an ocean (3, Informative)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296938)

In fact a private drone (from a university) has already done that years ago, across the Atlantic. It certainly cost a lot more than $500, but components have gone down in price quite a lot.

My crappy EasyStar ($60 of glorified styrofoam) can fly for almost an hour with a brushless motor on a 11V, 1200mA.h battery that costs around $30. It wouldn't be too hard in the near future to build a drone covered with lightweight solar cells, and enough batteries to stay airborne during the night. The EasyStar can already easily accommodate 200g of payload, for a total weight of one kg or two.

With an Arduino it's already super easy to build a drone with GPS guiding. But even if GPS is jammed it's not much harder to implement inertial positioning, and beyond that cell phone relay trilateration to lock in on a target. Each of those features can be had in a 1g integrated package.

Those are still vulnerable to military jamming, but at a significant cost to the target. There are other ways around this: sun tracking has not been done AFAIK but it shouldn't be too hard to do. We have *slightly* better clocks than mariners of the old time and that's what they used. At night, star tracking is also a possibility. Then some DIY drone people are experimenting with magnetic sensors, which is what migratory birds use.

In conclusion, drones are gonna be a problem, and I suspect states are going to try to ban them, to obviously no effect since all it takes are cell phone components (lithium batteries, microcontrollers, GPS receivers), some styrofoam and a few cheap power electronics components (brushless motors, controllers, and servos). Oh and duct tape. They better ban duct tape quick.

Re:Defense? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296534)

Care to name all of these conflicts we supposedly started? Please cite your sources to how we started them too. I think if you take the time to research this subject you're going to get a wicked eye opening.

Re:Defense? (1, Insightful)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296756)

The various Cold War military conflicts are a good way to start.

Re:Defense? (5, Informative)

geoskd (321194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296782)

Care to name all of these conflicts we supposedly started? Please cite your sources to how we started them too. I think if you take the time to research this subject you're going to get a wicked eye opening.

Ok, since we are going to have a go of it...

1st: Iraq. We invaded Iraq ostensibly to depose a Dictator [wikipedia.org] , but instead only ended up wreaking havoc on the most politically and socially stable country in the middle east. Anyone who believes Bush seniors decision to invade Iraq following the Kuwait fiasco, needs only come and see me about a bridge I have for sale. The reasons for the Gulf Ware [wikipedia.org] were largely fabricated at the time by the Kuwaiti Royal family who by no co-incidence happen to be family friends of the Bush family. Whether knowingly or not, George Bush senior involved us in a war which gave the impression to the rest of the world to be an almost completely unwarranted US invasion of an OPEC nation, for what appeared to be monetary reasons.

2nd: Iraq again, Round two, had even less valid reasons, and smelled worse than the first.

3rd: Afghanistan. Once again, we invade another country, This time for supporting terrorists, but if you had asked any of the senior Russian military personnel about catching terrorists in Afghanistan, they would have told you to save your effort. Even without US interference, Afghanistan was difficult for the USSR to handle, but then the US provided them with weapons to kill Soviets (and one another) with, but was no where to be found when the killing was over, and it was time to rebuild. We shouldn't have to wonder why the Taliban (who we actually supported at one time) think we're slime.

4th: Bay of pigs. You can look that one up on your own time.

5th: The Spanish American war [wikipedia.org] . The US on the path to empire takes on those who are in the way.

There is plenty more, that was just what I came across in a 10 minute trek through Wikipedia.

-=Geoskd

OFFTOPIC! MOD THE FUCK DOWN (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296568)

Your utterly wrong and uninsightful comment is completely offtopic to the issue at hand. The article is about defense against drones.

What the fuck does your opinion of what constitutes defense have anything to do with it here?

Moderators, do your job and mod this offtopic bullshit to oblivions please.

Re:Defense? (3, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296588)

The best defense is a good offense. You know who said that? Mel, the cook on "Alice".

  - Ed Gruberman

Re:Defense? (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296672)

"The best defense is a good offense"

Depends on context. In the legal environment, it is the EXACT opposite.

Re:Defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296738)

No young student. You fail to understand Ti Qwan Leap. Boot to the Head.

Re:Defense? (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296762)

And we all know how well that turned out for Ed...

Re:Defense? (5, Interesting)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296598)

As US war hero Maj General S.Butler [wikipedia.org] , the most highly decorated Marine by the time of his death (not to mention also single-handedly preventing the closest coup d’état overthrow of a United States President [wikipedia.org] ), described US foreign "defense" policy way back in the 1930's:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Re:Defense? (3, Informative)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296752)

Yea, a lot of people go a bit nutty in their old age. You may want to check out what else Butler said:

In November 1934, Butler told the committee that a group of businessmen, backed by a private army of 500,000 ex-soldiers and others, intended to establish a fascist dictatorship. Butler had been asked to lead it, he said, by Gerald P. MacGuire, a bond salesman with Grayson M-P Murphy & Co. The New York Times reported that Butler had told friends that General Hugh S. Johnson, a former official with the National Recovery Administration, was to be installed as dictator. Butler said MacGuire had told him the attempted coup was backed by three million dollars, and that the 500,000 men were probably to be assembled in Washington, D.C. the following year. All the parties alleged to be involved, including Johnson, said there was no truth in the story, calling it a joke and a fantasy.[43]

Re:Defense? (1)

indiechild (541156) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296898)

Did you actually read the parent post? He mentioned the Business Plot already.

Re:Defense? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296916)

Yeah, I skipped over that part, so I was under the impression that he was actually a rational person. My bad. If I had realized that he's the type who can honestly believe that a Secret Army of a half-million soldiers was ramping up to take over the US ... well, I'd probably have referred him to a psychiatrist instead.

Relevance To Story?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296754)

The quote is interesting, but what exactly is the relevance of it to the development of drone and UAVs by US adversaries?

Yeah I thought so. I just utterly and completely destroyed you.

I love how military articles on slashdot always turn into a political flamewar, and gives the US haters an opportunity to bash for no reason.

This stuff is just offtopic and should be moderated as such. This is a tech forum, not dkos.

Re:Defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296694)

Defending against drones is very important because a government-sponsored, unmanned aerial drone struck the World Trade Center during the events of September 11th, allowing the government to fabricate the whole story about a Middle Eastern dude who was an utter failure and disgrace in flight school yet managed to pull off an extremely difficult corkscrew maneuver and use a large jet with pinpoint accuracy. Oh, and despite the fires and explosions which have the characteristic "dip" in the middle of the building of a controlled demolition, somehow the ID card of some of these Middle Eastern dudes was recovered. Yeah. I think 9/11 was meant to be obvious, a way for the elite to inform those with a clue that the elite are getting more confident, but most of you twits still think your government represents you and would never lie to you about matters of such import. It'd be funny if it weren't so pathetic.

Re:Defense? (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296968)

Did you forget? September 11th was a declaration of war on us. We were forced to retaliate. There's a comprehensive 10 second video explanation here [aeromental.net] .

FIRST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296482)

!First

Hey... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296492)

what about bullets? They have been in the market for quite long already.

Re:Hey... bullets! (3, Informative)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296544)

Not like they used to. Air burst rounds [wikipedia.org] will likely be the next iteration in the infantry arms race: Essentially a grenade that files in a flat trajectory and can detonate where ever you tell it to, such as "that line of sandbags, plus 1m" and then you aim above the sandbags.

They certainly will come in handy against your average "terrorist" armed with an AK-47, but once these types of guns are available to both sides of a conflict it will get real ugly. I certainly hope they remain a technology demonstrator only by some gentlemans agreement. But the next iteration of ground warfare is already in progress [slashdot.org] ...

Re:Hey... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296546)

If a plane can be built for $500 and you cannot use more than 200 bullets to knock one down (as some destroyers already do), because it's too expensive to properly shot them, then either bullets, shooters or guns are too expensive, but that's all part of the business.

Now they want millions of dollars in research to defend themselves from garage made un-expensive devices.

Arm your citizens... (2, Informative)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296502)

It would seem to me if every citizen knew how to properly shoot a rifle, odds are pretty good one of those things could be knocked out of the sky with a barrett. It would cost all of us a heck of a lot less money too.

In fact... this is exactly the sort of thing the 2nd amendment was written for. "The people" defending themselves from attack.

Re:Arm your citizens... (2, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296516)

You can't shoot a plane flying at 30,000-40,000 feet out of the sky with a rifle. For that matter, you'd be damn lucky to hit one at 5,000 feet.

Re:Arm your citizens... (2, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296528)

I should add: I've got no problem with teaching everyone to shoot. Mandatory gun training might save some lives currently lost to stupidity.

Re:Arm your citizens... (-1, Flamebait)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296730)

Mandatory gun deprivation would save more lives, currently lost to guns.

Re:Arm your citizens... (2, Funny)

Beer_Smurf (700116) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296796)

Mandatory drug deprivation would save more lives, currently lost to drugs.

Re:Arm your citizens... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296824)

Mandatory retard killing would have taken out you and the parent post

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296892)

You can have my drugs when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. Join the NDA today!

Re:Arm your citizens... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296802)

kill yourself

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296936)

Depends. Are we talking universal gun deprivation, or just the subjects of the crown?

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296554)

A $500 RC plane can't fly at 30-40,000 feet. It would also struggle to make it to 5,000 feet. They're talking about drones that would be flying at several hundred feet at most if they're carrying any kind of a load... which is the primary concern.

Re:Arm your citizens... (3, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296584)

The original article is talking about military drones. The $500 toy is a reference added by the editor. (I admit it could have some tactical survellance value, if you could launch it from nearby). While you could build a small piston engine + prop powered drone for a few thousand dollars, it would still have to be fairly big in order to carry a militarily useful payload and travel the necessary distance. Such a drone will not fly at tree top levels; and, if it did, you'd never see it before it was too late to do anything about it.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296712)

A $500 RC plane isn't going to be carrying any kind of load that can do any real damage.

Sure, you can pack an RC plane with some C-4 and just fly it kamikaze style into something, but it still couldn't be much more C-4 than the amount needed to blow the lock off a door. Explosives have weight, and RC planes can't carry much extra weight. Given the imprecision of flying one of these things any distance whatsoever, I would think you'd have to carry a tremendous amount of explosives to be able to reliably take out any sort of target.

I would think these would make for an extremely ineffective weapon. A truck bomb would be much more effective.

As for military drones, while it's fun to play "what-if", the reality is there's no practical way for anybody else to attack the US mainland with one of these. For one thing, they are extremely slow. For another thing, they are not stealthy. They would even show up on commercial radar. Heck, bottle rockets show up on commercial radar sometimes. And the FAA doesn't look kindly on unauthorized flights in commercial airspace.

That's not even mentioning the range. We fly drones in Afghanistan from Afghanistan. Where is somebody going to launch a drone attack on the United States from?

And lastly, drones are not difficult to shoot down. Lots of things are immune to heat-seeking missiles - that's why radar guided missiles exist. We've actually had several drones shot down ourselves, even in countries with zero radar coverage, zero opposing air force and zero air defense. These were shot down by guys looking up into the sky and getting off a lucky shot.

Look at it this way. How successful would you imagine a Tu-95 bomber run would be over the US mainland? I personally would expect that every one of them would be shot down - they'd be detected early, fighters would be scrambled, SAM sites alerted. Now replace the Tu-95 with a slower, less well armed drone with a lot less range. Why would you think it would actually be easier for a drone to get through?

I think we've got more important things to worry about, not least of which preparing for more conventional attacks from our enemies, or more "traditional" terrorist attacks.

Re:Arm your citizens... (3, Interesting)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296952)

Why would you think it would actually be easier for a drone to get through?

Because you can afford to swarm them. Do you know how much a Tu-95 bomber costs? Divide by $500, and you've got the number of toy flying bombs you might have to contend with instead. If you're spending tens of thousands to shoot each one down you're losing the war even if you're not taking any direct damage from the drones themselves.

$500 drones are small (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296978)

The EasyStar, the base for most DIY drone experiments, is a 1.3 m wide slab of styrofoam -- 700g worth of it. It doesn't have to fly at 30000 feet to be hard to shoot down. I doubt you could take that down at a few hundred feet, let alone a few thousand.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296918)

Your $500 drone isn't going to be very effective from 30k feet either, though. By the time it closes to a range that it can be combat effective at, it will pass nearby enough to several people who, if they had arms and a modicum of practice at the skeet range, would be able to have a chance at partially disabling it.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296520)

That's an incredibly bad idea. Compare terminal velocity and total energy on a .50 cal rifle round to typical calibers and you'll see why. Laser point defense would make more sense; using drones to fight drones makes even more.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296674)

Well, it depends on which kind of drone you're talking about. If it's the military drone, then yes it would be more than likely a moot point. But if you're talking about a battery powered drone, it won't have the same kind of armor (it doesn't have the power to support that much weight and still have a useful payload). I would think small arms would be particularly effective, since such a cheap drone would likely fly low and slow...

Re:Arm your citizens... (1, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296764)

I would think small arms would be particularly effective, since such a cheap drone would likely fly low and slow...

Low and slow are both relative. If people start shooting at drones, drones will start shooting at people; having the advantage of high ground (barring space, the sky is the ultimate high ground) and size means that the drones will win. Drones will start dropping bundles of dronelets soon enough, as well. You have no hope of shooting down swarms of explosive drones the size of your hand.

Arm your rebels... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296522)

Would that be US citizens or Afghan rebels?

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

Obyron (615547) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296526)

The Barrett rifles would still cost more than the drone you're shooting down. Granted, it's at least reusable, but every citizen would have to bag something like 15-20 drones for it to be cost effective.

Re:Arm your citizens... (4, Informative)

Minupla (62455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296560)

The idea of hundreds of citizens firing UP INTO THE AIR trying to hit a drone scares the hell out of me... what goes up must come down, and the law of conservation of energy combine to make me think that the damage to those of us on the ground would probably be greater then what the drone could do... particularly since the drone would likely be too far above the shooters for a bullet to have any hope of finding it...

Min

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296636)

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Bullets fired straight up in the air tend to tumble, which robs them of their killing power. That said, a bullet fired in an arc can come down miles away and still deadly.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296576)

And what happens when the first citizen used his rifle and training to steal or kill?

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296604)

That's no different than it is now, in this country where I can walk into WalMart and buy a hunting rifle or shotgun.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296966)

So if it's now different to now, how is the OP's suggestion any different to now?

Re:Arm your citizens... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296648)

He'd probably get shot, because his victims and anyone else around will be armed and able to protect themselves.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296702)

Then you prosecute them for theft or murder? What's so hard about that.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296718)

Them as in the person who committed the crime and the US government how gave them the required tools and skills to do it?

Re:Arm your citizens... (2, Informative)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296776)

When everyone is armed, people behave in a different manner. Rape, robbery, and assaults tend to go down in areas which relax gun laws - while the same crimes increase in areas where more restrictive gun laws are enacted.

It's in your best interest to arm every citizen.

Re:Arm your citizens... (1, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296854)

I would like to see were you get your statistics since I have never seen any that corroborate your hypothesis.
In fact all statistics I have seen point in the opposite direction.
Here is one of many http://www.gun-control-network.org/GF01.htm [gun-control-network.org]

Re:Arm your citizens... (0)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296934)

Do a bit more research. Research has shown that commonplace crimes happen considerably less when everyone is armed, whereas homicide rates increase. I'd take that.

Re:Arm your citizens... (0, Flamebait)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296954)

you would rather more people died if less people lost their pocket change?

DOS WAR (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296506)

500$ per drone - $3 000 000 to destroy a drone ... smell like we could get a nice DOS type war

Re:DOS WAR (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296686)

What do you think any war of the last few decades have been? In iraq, they have old AK's, and RPGs.. We have Strykers, predators, and almost million dollar Humvees that they blow up with a few dollars of explosives and a discarded cell phone.

Re:DOS WAR (3, Informative)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296746)

Actually smells like the SDI that precipitated the fall of the USSR.. only in reverse.

As long as we give billions of dollars to the military/security interests, to protect us against marginal or very distant threats, they, and the terrorists, win.

Re:DOS WAR (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296842)

Hard to do an economical DOS when you can create from thin air new money and they can't Is not money the problem, but time (or at least already built units in each side at the moment/place where are needed)

There is a good, cheap counter (1)

baxnick (1732500) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296538)

Does the counter to this threat really need to be high tech and expensive? Clearly the perfect counter to UAVs are UAVs. You could take a few gamers and pay them minumum wage to sit around in a room on call. When a possible threat is detected a UAV is launched and remote control is handed over to an operator and they bring down the threat or surveil and report, then they can go back to their wow raid or play flight sims or whatever it is they want to do to keep busy in the meantime. Step it up a notch by training operators/doing background checks/having distributed locations etc but it's still pretty cheap. You don't need many people in order to have it so that there will always be someone ready to take over at a moments notice.

Re:There is a good, cheap counter (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296794)

You've got the right idea, but, really, you wouldn't even need "operators" per say. We have the technology to build drones capable of fully autonomous air-to-air combat. All you need is a trained monkey sitting in front of a screen, with a big red "go/no-go" switch to authorize weapons release.

Time to call Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296542)

...Machines

There - problem solved :)

Destruction is easy (2, Informative)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296550)

It's always easier to destroy than to build. This is what makes terrorism so effective. It takes millions of dollars to defend against weapons costing only a few thousand dollars. A 20 thousand dollar missile can take out a 200 million dollar airplane. A boat loaded with explosives can sink a ship costing several hundred million dollars. It's expensive being on the defensive.

It's all about the tech (5, Interesting)

twisteddk (201366) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296556)

I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that I can disable a $500 drone with little less than a portable radio, my laptop and a couple of bucks worth of radioshack equipment. Thing about the drones is that they TOO have weaknesses. And a safe, unbreakable, unhackable, wireless, remote control interface costs a LOT more than $500. And an EM emitter, or even just a remote jamming device, or in case of a wireguided or automated drone a laser to interfere with or destroy the optics seems like pretty easy to come by and cheap solutions.

And for those really high tech drones that can survive these kinds of odds. I'm sure we can spend a cheap stinger on. Why anyone would WANT to make the leap all the way to a patriot missile, made for smashing down objects the size of a spaceshuttle is beyond me.

Re:It's all about the tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296606)

I agree, its quite ridiculous to suggest the US military would take down a $500 drone with a patriot missile. Put up a net and you can take these things down. They are also completely missing the point as to why such a drone would need to be taken down.

A lightweight battery powered drone would have very limited range and functionality. At best it could do limited ISR, but its not going to be carrying any hellfire missiles or ammunition. This article is pure propaganda trying to scare people.

Wrong solution to wrong problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296634)

The problem is not that the drone have weakness, and one can defend itself against, the problem is , they are cheap, can be made widespread. Thus you would have to be able to defeat/defend agaisnt them everywhere. Even the US would not be able to cover their whole territoty. So just like cheap bombing and cheap attack of the populace, drone attack agaisnt fed building or Mil basis will be difficult to defend agaisnt due to the surface and number of target to defend. And saying the program is difficult is a misnommer. It only to be made once jsut like rootkit building programs or botnet package. After that, it is as cheap as an EPROM away. And once this is done.... Well that at least revert a bit the power away from military to put it back in the hand of "the people".

Re:It's all about the tech (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296652)

Even high school students are dabbling in autonomous drones nowadays, and most research on autonomous vehicles is open and readily downloadable. Your jammer is not going to help too much if the drone knows what it's supposed to do without radio contact.

And you need to know there's a drone to jam a kilometer overhead in the first place.

Re:It's all about the tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296662)

I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that I can disable a $500 drone with little less than a portable radio, my laptop and a couple of bucks worth of radioshack equipment. Thing about the drones is that they TOO have weaknesses. And a safe, unbreakable, unhackable, wireless, remote control interface costs a LOT more than $500. And an EM emitter, or even just a remote jamming device, or in case of a wireguided or automated drone a laser to interfere with or destroy the optics seems like pretty easy to come by and cheap solutions.

And for those really high tech drones that can survive these kinds of odds. I'm sure we can spend a cheap stinger on. Why anyone would WANT to make the leap all the way to a patriot missile, made for smashing down objects the size of a spaceshuttle is beyond me.

How about a simple RC controler like these

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0093p?&C=JAL.

All you need to do find the frequency the controler for the drone is using and start broadcasting on it. This is not all that hard; especially if they have one of these

http://www.redrockethobbies.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=HCAP0340&Click=6136

Not to mention the fact that there is a rather limited range and payload for any RC vehicle costing $US500. You could probably carry something like an M-80, but it would be more annoying than anything else.

Re:It's all about the tech (4, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296698)

Good luck with that. If I were designing one of those and my objective was to kill innocent people and/or disrupt a country's manufacturing/distribution infrastructure, all I need is a chip that will get it where it's going, run through a series of shape templates (a bus, train or transport truck or specific building, for example), then dive into it.

Easy, cheap, and no external control needed. Another plus: hardening such throw-away devices is usually easy and cheap. Example: Inertial navigation to target, flip on the video for a quick look-see, then hit whatever's closest. And you build lots and lots of 'em.

Re:It's all about the tech (5, Interesting)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296732)

it depends on the drones
remote controlled DYI drones uses analog video (easy to jam) and FHSS UHF radio signals for control (hard to jam, but not that hard. also crackable to get the control)
completely independent ones (like the one linked).. i dunno what you're planning, EMP wave?
they do not need any ground communication. in fact, they one single weakness: they use GPS for orientation. The USA can disable the GPS whenever necessary.
However some other positioning systems are coming up and its not impossible to make them fly to the right location without GPS control, actually, even without any of the satellite based systems, only using sensors and image analysis (tho those aren't as easy and well known at the DYI ones)

Re:It's all about the tech (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296830)

The sensor on a Stinger may not be sensitive enough to track a UAV. Remember, the Stinger is heat-seeking. A battery-powered UAV will not emit as much heat as a jet-powered or gas-fueled vehicle.

Re:It's all about the tech (1)

sponga (739683) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296970)

Wow I am sure they never thought of any of that. I love it I always come on here to find some guy who thinks he can outsmart the military and doesn't realize he was already dead long ago.

Seriously you don't think these scientist/engineers know what stuff is out there, that they cannot jam a signal and cannot track/triangulate a signals position.

There are many more systems than the patriot system for defense including the best of them all C-Ram which shoots explosive rounds into the air towards the target as it approaches, you're a little bit behind in times.

C-Ram(Counter Rocket and Mortar)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjA5fkPtb58 [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClqfOCt7EdI [youtube.com]

Also since when have UAV's been the size of spaceshuttle.

The UAV tool accessible now has been the greatest asset in this modern war, why face down this modern enemy when they are willing to blow themselves and everyone around them to get a hit at the target enemy.

Let's get this out of the way (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296558)

I don't understand: Drones are easy to take down. A couple of dragoons or zealots should do the trick nicely, or maybe a few marines instead. Heck, you can go at em with SCVs and have a fighting chance.

Re:Let's get this out of the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296806)

The military effectiveness of drones just like submarines comes from their stealth qualities not their robustness.
In WWII the RAF with great heroic efforts was ultimately able to defeat Luftwaffe bomber raids however they never developed an adequate defense for the German V-1 "doodlebug" attacks.
Note that 40,000 Londoners were killed by German air attacks.

That $600 DIY drone is just bargain parts cost (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296572)

By the time you pay someone to build it, then test to make sure it actually works, package and ship it, I suspect it will cost a bit more. Now add *real* remote control that can work from 100s or 1000s of km away. That's a few more bucks. Now add a payload of explosives that makes it a credible threat (I'm sorry, 1/2kg of explosive in a model airplane isn't what one would call a death dealing engine of war that would justify shooting it down with a $3M Patriot). Oh, now it's bigger, so you need a bigger engine, and a larger fuel tank or battery, etc.

Pretty soon you're up to some serious money. I doubt you could build a credible threat that is manufacturable and usable in a battlefield environment for less than $100k a copy.

Re:That $600 DIY drone is just bargain parts cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296660)

Who was talking about hardened bunker destroyers? This is about terror weapons.

They wouldn't need 1000km remote controls either - GPS assisted by horizon detectors and inertial nav can easily get your $500 anti personnel drone from 10 miles away to Times Square on a busy evening. Or 20 of them.

I think that would have a pretty stunning effect, don't you?

Bad comparison (1)

DemonBeaver (1485573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296608)

You shouldn't compare the price of the defense to the price of the weapon, but rather to the damage it can do.

Wrong cost comparison (5, Insightful)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296614)

It's not about the cost of what you have to shoot down but what you have to defend.

Re:Wrong cost comparison (1)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296740)

I agree wholeheartedly. Too bad there isn't much left after everything has been pilfered and sold off or outsourced. My biggest concern is the American yard sale - kind of hard to call it economic warfare any more. think drones are the least of our worries, unless they are carrying biological agents - in which case you wouldn't want to shoot them down anyway. Anyway, the most effective thing you can do about any small scale covert attack is good intelligence and hopefully have the time frame in which to make use of it.

It will be a battle of intelligence (and sensors) (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296620)

As other nations develop their drones (and robotic fish and crawlers/walkers) our drones should be able to defeat theirs most of the time as long as ours are "smarter" and their senses are more acute.

The only problem is when "most' of the time isn't good enough, either when the enemy can produces a huge number of inferior yet numerically overwhelming units (China?) OR if they carry WMD (Nuclear, Biological or Chemical) where letting just one through is catastrophic.

That is why missile defense against a major nuclear power like Russia is useless; when the damage a single $10M nuclear ICBM can cause might be in the Trillions of dollars
(target: Manhattan) it makes it very worthwhile to produce lots and lots of missiles to
overwhelm any conceivable defense. The
return on investment(?) is very high!

Of course for a minor power (Iran, N. Korea are you listening?) that can just barely get their missiles to fly, drones might be a much better way of delivering the goods. (or diplomatic pouch/FedEx).

We're back to WWI (4, Interesting)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296638)

Read about the history of air warfare during WWI, with the rise of airplanes. The situation is analogous to drones. Ultimately, drones will have defenses and counter-attacks. It's not been a big deal yet because we're fighting people who don't have access to the technology, but that will change.

Lasers? (2, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296640)

Would it be possible to build tripod mounted lasers to lock onto a drone and just keep firing at it until the battery explodes / circuitry melts? Locking on should be easy since $500 drones won't be going at 200 meters per second. A laser working with household level power should be able to fry a drone in a few minutes.

EMP (1)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296644)

what would be wrong with a hefty eloctromagnetic pulse - so long as it was aimed in the right direction and there was nothing else nearby then this would knock them out. Or even a nice big laser :) these drones are pretty slow moving right?

Weapons arn't the problem. (1)

pigpilot (733494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296664)

The article reads like an attempt to stir up a panic and get loads of tax dollars thrown at a simple problem. Once a drone is detected then they can easily be take out. Home made ones that 'terrorists' might have are vulnerable to someone with a shotgun or a hunting rifle. I'm sure the first attempt to hit the White House with a GPS controlled drone will make good target practice for the snipers on the roof. Larger and faster ones would stand little chance against someone chasing and shooting from a Police helicopter. And the really fast ones, that even America doesn't have yet, they can be treated as normal foes and the air force can have them. Care needs to be taken not to deploy defensive missiles that cause a greater danger than the attacking weapons. I seem to remember that when Isreal became a target for Iraq's missiles the Patriots used to hit them were nearly as dangerouse as the incoming Scuds to the people on the ground. The real problem isn't the weapons to shoot the drones down, it's the ability to detect and track them. I doubt much of the USA is covered by radar that could track small drones flying at rooftop height. But I think upgrading radar systems and air traffic control is a harder sell than nice expensive weapons.

Wrong hands... (0, Troll)

greenpete (1295397) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296684)

The U.S. are worried this technology will get into the wrong hands! What makes them think they have the right ones? Such arrogance! In my opinion, there are no 'right hands' to wield such vile technology.

Re:Wrong hands... (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296778)

The U.S. are worried this technology will get into the wrong hands! What makes them think they have the right ones? Such arrogance!

It's arrogant to be concerned about high-tech weapons falling into the hands of people who want to harm you?

Are you off your meds, again?

Re:Wrong hands... (1, Troll)

greenpete (1295397) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296810)

At the risk of getting in to a pointless argument, I feel the U.S. invasion of several countries (illegally or otherwise) seems to be a sign of the U.S. wanting to harm people and as we've seen, all to often they have been civilians. War is bad period! No one has the 'right hands' to wield war machines IMHO.

Re:Wrong hands... (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296886)

At the risk of getting in to a pointless argument, I feel the U.S. invasion of several countries (illegally or otherwise) seems to be a sign of the U.S. wanting to harm people and as we've seen, all to often they have been civilians.

Well, yeah, it's going to be pointless if you insist on side-tracking it. What in the world does that have to do with your original comment?

War is bad period! No one has the 'right hands' to wield war machines IMHO.

I've never understood how grown men can make such childishly naive statements. So what if "no one has the right hands"? As long as the technology exists, it's going to be used. If you're going to live with the rest of us in the real world, you're going to have to wrap your mind around the idea that people are going to do things you don't like. Stomping your foot and screaming "BUT I DON'T LIKE IT!" isn't going to change anything.

Re:Wrong hands... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296848)

the US gov't wants to harm us and they get drones. go kill yourself.

Freakin Laser Beams... (3, Interesting)

RockClimbingFool (692426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296688)

Seriously. If we can shoot down mosquitos [slashdot.org] with optically guided lasers for $50, surely we can shoot down drones?

It's fucked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296826)

No a landmine, not a soldier, this is the worst weapon we've yet conceived in its ability to do discriminate damage at a distance. There is now good reason for Afghanistan to attack America as there are soldiers sitting on American soil killing their people.

Not much to worry about (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296828)

By the time our enemi...ZERG RUSH! RUN!

EP.d.? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296832)

if you move a tabl e argued by Eric than this BSD box,

Anti-bot bots. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296852)

Economics!.. what if a $500 drone destroy a $500 drone?

I'll probably regret this.... but... (4, Insightful)

GuyFawkes (729054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296868)

A 500 buck drone, capable of carrying 250g of c4, with a range of 5 km and an endurance of 30 minutes, could bring a country to its knees.

Targets?

Satellite dish LNBs, High Tension cable insulators, refinery pipework, radar dishes on weaponry, etc etc etc.

use two, the first the blow an access into a window, and EVERY important computer is a target, bank computers, traffic control computers, air traffic control, industrial process, etc etc etc.

Use 5, meshed together, and the fifth could be flown inside a rabbit warren, SCRAM control sensors in a reactor plant, you name it.

Look here: (3, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296960)

http://www.mikrokopter.de/ [mikrokopter.de]

For 1250 (a bit more expensive than 500, ok) you can get the hexacopter, which:
- has 20 to 40 minutes endurance
- is fully automatic
- can fly to GPS coordinates without outside commands
- can carry over 1 kg payload.

Gotta Feed the Military Industrial Complex (3, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296974)

We gotta keep finding new threats. Otherwise defense contractor stock would drop! We can't have that!

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