Infinitesimally small lethal drones

I recently read that a $3M Patriot missile, which is normally used to shoot down enemy aircrafts and missiles, was used to shoot down a $200 quadcopter drone. You can read the full piece here.

This piece is important for two reasons.

First, it shows that there is a big difference between the cost of potentially inflicting harm using drones and the cost of preventing that harm.

I’m sure that the Patriot missile isn’t the cheapest solution to eliminate a small drone. However, the cost of taking out a drone is likely much greater than the cost of inflicting harm using one. Theoretically, you could launch as many low cost drones as necessary to exhaust all of the defensive resources of an organization before beginning to deliver lethal blows once these defensive resources are exhausted.

This leads to the second point.

Drone technology is improving such that drones are being equipped with the same capabilities at much smaller sizes. The smaller drones get, the more difficult they are for defense systems to detect. Imagine an infinitesimally small but lethal drone. Detecting and eliminating such a drone would be very expensive, if it can be done at all.

That, together with all its consequences, is where we’re likely headed.


Also published on Medium.