General Question

LostInParadise's avatar

Is there a defense against drone attacks?

Asked by LostInParadise (30076points) February 14th, 2013

At some point, countries other than the U.S. are going to figure out how to deploy drones. North Korea, China and Iran come to mind. How would we defend against such an attack? Are we going to see the drones on one side attacking those on the other?

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28 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Drones are semi-autonomous ( they fly themselves within parameters ). Dog fights aren’t in the formula or equation. That said they may put the formula in the future.

muhammajelly's avatar

@LostInParadise The best defense against drones is nuclear weapons pointed at population centers. It is 100% effective deterrent 100% of the time people know you are not a paper-tiger.

muhammajelly's avatar

You ask a second question as well, “Are we going to see the drones on one side attacking those on the other?”. I would argue that Patriot is drones attacking drones. I don’t really see missiles any different than single-use drones.

CWOTUS's avatar

The problem for other nations to launch their own drone strikes against the USA is “deployment”. These are not a B1 bomber type of weapon: they can’t fly around the world from a foreign base. The drones in Afghanistan, Yemen and other places in Asia are there with the consent of at least part of those governments—and the presence of a well-equipped, funded and heavily supported staff of technicians, maintenance and security forces to protect the bases from which these things are launched.

Of course, that could change in the future, too. There may be ways for drones to be hijacked in mid-flight and the attacks redirected against the bases that launch them.

So right now the best defenses are various forms of social engineering (get the tech drunk – and talking – and steal his credentials and information), threats against family members that might cause support techs to make key “mistakes” in programming, and hacking / cracking the computers that direct the after-launch processes.

jerv's avatar

Electronic Warfare, specifically, jamming. Most drones rely on remote control, and virtually all make at least some use of GPS.

Sadly, that would lead to an EW arms race and rapid advances in inertial guidance systems, so the end result would be an end to wireless technology such as wifi, cellphones, and GPS navigation solely to protect against primitive drones.

muhammajelly's avatar

@jerv Advanced drones have line-of-sight to satellite systems. It is hard to block line-of-sight above drones. If you can see something you can communicate with it.

fremen_warrior's avatar

I’d say the right question is: how do I make sure I don’t end up on my own government’s infamous hit list?

jerv's avatar

@muhammajelly Entirely true; one thing that separates advanced drones from primitive ones is resistance to EW. That includes shielded electronics, inertial guidance, and similar counter-countermeasures.

flutherother's avatar

Drones aren’t very fast or manoeuvrable and I think they would be easily shot down by aircraft or surface to air missiles. They are very effective against enemies like the Taliban who use rifles, RPG’s and IED’s and of course civilians who are unarmed.

LostInParadise's avatar

@flutherother , Drones are also fairly small. How accurate are those aircraft and missiles?

jerv's avatar

@LostInParadise Many anti-air missiles explode fairly far from the target and create a cloud of shrapnel. A direct hit is not only unnecessary, but may actually do less damage. Also note that it often doesn’t take much to damage most aircraft or missiles; they are usually thin-skinned, and if you want to see what a minor amount of skin damage can do so something traveling at hundreds of miles an hour, look at the space shuttle Columbia; just do a little damage and let aerodynamics do the actual destruction.

ninjacolin's avatar

Sounds perfect. The drones will fight drones and no one will ever have to get hurt.
It will be like UFC but for shitty politicians to enact their war fantasies in a safe environment.
they’ll govern us based on the results: “see! my drones are better. so.. we own your country now.”

LostInParadise's avatar

@jerv , Will the drones even show up on radar, especially if they fly low?

LuckyGuy's avatar

An Iron Dome system can be programmed to pop them out of the sky.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think the USSR had a lookdown radar on their MIG-29’s that could find cruise missiles.

jerv's avatar

@LostInParadise That depends. The competition between sensors and stealth is an ever-evolving one, so it really depends more on the relative degrees of technological sophistication between the aggressor and the defender and the their ability to deploy their respective technologies.
Note that it is not safe to assume that the US is the absolutely most technologically advanced at all times, as evidenced by WWII Germany who had significant leads in cryptography, aircraft, and tank technologies. Nor is it safe to assume that we are the best at deployment; China has a pretty damn robust economy. It is that second point which also did in Germany, as they could not produce/deploy enough of their advanced combat units while the Russians were able to crank out technically inferior T-34s faster than German guns and their own mechanical unreliability could take them out.

@ninjacolin See Robot Jox for something like that.

lillycoyote's avatar

@muhammajelly The best defense against drones, the dragonflies our our arsenal, is “nuclear weapons pointed at population centers?”

You’re kidding, right? You have anything else? Anything more practical? That’s kind of silly, if you ask me.

mattbrowne's avatar

@muhammajelly – I don’t like your cynical comment. And this isn’t the first time you are posting stuff on Fluther irritating people. Unless you change your behavior, I foresee trouble. Yet everybody deserves a second chance. Some of your posts were really good.

Is there a defense against drones. Yes, plus there will be numerous new ones once rogue states begin to threaten Western countries. I foresee a new type of arms race.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Guys nobody in their right mind would outright nuke so much as a cottage these days, not to mention an actual city. Why are you geting so irritated over @muhammajelly ‘s response? It may not be sensible, or practical, but it’s their opinion.

Quite frankly what frightens me the most is the prospect of a terrorist nuke attack against the US. If some morons decide to blow up a US city, guess what will happen? A small country full of brown people will get nuked back into the stone age by an enraged America.

You’re all seriously worried about drones? Worry about ICBMs flying all over the place…

muhammajelly's avatar

@lillycoyote @mattbrowne If it irritates you it irritates me that the CORRECT answers are often the most despised of all. If you are correct you will surely be censored because the truth isn’t always PC. A lot of people don’t understand why alliances work. They don’t work because they make your side more powerful. They work because they force a choice between a large conflict or none at all. Small wars have a way of turning into large wars. Make armed conflict binary and you will have less of it not more. The binary nature of the cold war was how it stayed so cold. If people always stuck to “proportional responses” there wouldn’t be any reason for the USSR not to keep gobbling up some little country here and there until eventually there actually was a global war. The continual measured-response low-level armed conflict the majority of people here seem to advocate is the primordial ooze from which WWIII will emerge.

jerv's avatar

I concur; the truth isn’t always PC, and sugar-coating it is almost as bad as ignoring it. If you can’t handle cynicism, you cannot handle Truth, which means Reality will always shock and disappoint you.

@mattbrowne Is an arms race really any true protection? I see it as a new level of status quo.

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s also the truth that we can try to nudge an asteroid to make sure it doesn’t miss Earth so it can destroy the drones.

@jerv – The threat of a new arms race can help, because no one wins except for the weapon industry. Taxpayers don’t like expensive arms races.

muhammajelly's avatar

@mattbrowne Every wonder why the Chinese are so interested in “defending” against asteroids? The power to nudge them away is the power to summon them.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@muhammajelly any sources for that tidbit? a news article? a publication? Anything to confirm the Chinese are after this kind of technology? (I’m not mocking you here, I’m curious where you got the info from)

muhammajelly's avatar

@fremen_warrior “Anything to confirm the Chinese are after this kind of technology?”

I produced a news article but simply showing they are working on deflection technology doesn’t show any motive. The Chinese exercise the dual functionality of nuclear technology. They exercise the dual functionality of laser technology to burn out people’s eyes. They exercise every technology they possess to the full extent of its military potential. To claim all technologies but one will be used to the full extent of its military potential is laughable.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@muhammajelly you say: ”The Chinese exercise the dual functionality of nuclear technology. They exercise the dual functionality of laser technology to burn out people’s eyes. They exercise every technology they possess to the full extent of its military potential.

I’m not saying this is not true, this is quite possible actually. What is also possible is that I am from another planet, just pretending to be human.

Throwing accusations around based solely on a hunch, though, is not enough.

Do you have proof of this?

Links to concrete analyses, studies, even press articles that would give any indication that the Chinese are actually militarizing any kind of “civilian” technology?

Or is this just you speculating?

CWOTUS's avatar

Maybe the Mad magazine of the future will have a Drone vs. Drone feature.

muhammajelly's avatar


It should be widely known that Chinese militarize all feasible civilian technology. There is no credible documentation stating otherwise or giving any reason why not.

Here is an article talking about where the Chinese have militarized some kind of “civilian” technology as per your request:

Also, North Korea was provided a ZM-87 by the Chinese and used it against American pilots. I guess this is just coincidence again right?

Do you have any proof otherwise? I wonder why instead there isn’t a requirement for proof that the Chinese are using something for civilian only since their entire history is the opposite. If I had a can of compressed cleaning gas I could say it was for my computer and you would have to prove otherwise. If someone was caught huffing compressed cleaning gas a dozen times and was then caught with a can the onerous of proof reverses.

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