An article in the Small Wars Journal starts by saying that the recent drone attacks targeting critical components of Saudi Arabia’s energy sector, highlighted by the September fourteenth attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Khurais oilfield and Abqaiq refinery, demonstrate the strategic effect small drones can make in conflict zones. It sets out to examine how technological innovation is contributing to the growing role of drones in small wars and how the application of new technology is sometimes shaped by the operational environment and external actors. It also considers how new changes may soon increase the threat of these unmanned systems. The article distinguishes between the terms drone and UAV meaning unmanned aircraft, whereas an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is taken to mean something more – a UAS is a complete system to include the drone, pilot, ground control station and any other components involved in flying the aircraft. While concluding that the situation is not entirely without hope, it also says compares the commercial proliferation of small UAV technology as a significant bonus to terrorist and insurgent groups against soft and unprepared targets similar to the jumps in capability afforded when surplus (and state-provided) automatic weapons proliferated during the ’50s and ’60s, and the adaptation of commercial cell phone and wireless communications technology to IED.
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