Scandinavian Journal of Military Studies (Jan 2021)

Fighting the Locusts: Implementing Military Countermeasures Against Drones and Drone Swarms

  • Matthieu J. Guitton

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 4, no. 1


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The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or “drones” in military contexts has skyrocketed in the last two decades, with missions ranging from surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence to combat support. Technological advances have led to an increase in drone capabilities and reliability, on the one hand, and to a decrease of production costs, on the other hand. Furthermore, drone availability has also drastically increased, and equipment that was once the exclusive privilege of a few countries can now be obtained by all national armed forces – and, as evidenced by recent attacks, by non-official forces. In this context, drones can become part of any conflict, and military strategists have to include response to drones and to potential drone swarms in their operational scenarios. Therefore, defense against drones has to become a component of any full-fledged military strategy. This analysis explores the conceptual and operational changes for military forces triggered by the massive emergence of drones, including the theoretical and practical challenges related to training and implementing specific anti-drone units. First, the evolution of the threats related to drones and drone swarms is identified. We then summarize the different possible countermeasures. Finally, we propose practical solutions to deploy these countermeasures, notably by exploring the possibilities of development and deployment of specialized anti-drone units and examining some of the challenges associated with fighting high-tech unmanned enemies rather than fighting soldiers in conventional battlefields.