This is an exciting market that the UK has a great start in, there are loads of UK organisations developing and delivering all manner of systems for different markets, we also have a very good set of test ranges and facilities in Wales. As components fall in price and new materials and battery technology become available, small UAS will move past the government and hobbyist markets and into mainstream commercial applications, as above, in many cases, they already are.

The next real stage of development will be software, connecting collection devices with cloud-based and on-board applications. Computing power, especially lightweight computing power, will see increasingly sophisticated image analysis and flight control software to be deployed. Artificial intelligence and learning software will become viable to be carried on-board.

They represent a real threat to security and deployed force protection.

We must, therefore, bring them into training, doctrinal and systems development activities, accelerating current programmes that are perhaps more focussed on static location protection and get them into the hands of young Officers and Junior NCO’s.

The more we experiment with them, the more we will be able to both counter and exploit this rapidly moving technology.

Flat footed, lets not be.

Table of Contents

This article is split into six sections;

  • Introduction; this page
  • More than Toys although some of them are toys, many are not. Modern professional systems are used in agriculture, survey, civil engineering, telecommunications and other sectors where durability and capability are key requirements. As technology improves, those capabilities can be exploited in the defence sector.
  • Threats and Examples of Use; recent examples of criminal and combat-related use of low-cost civilian UAS and a discussion of potential threats as the technology matures.
  • Counters; in response to increasing use, the defence and security industry has responded with a wide variety of countermeasures.
  • Opportunities; if others can exploit this technology, why not the reverse, a look at potential means by which UK forces can use a low-cost civilian system derived UAS
  • Summary; a summary!
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