It's August 4, 2018, the weather is a bit mild on Bolivar Avenida, located in the municipality of Libertador, west of Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, but the clouds above portend a lot of rain.
Nevertheless, there is a huge crowd in the place following a speech by President Nicolas Maduro on the 81st anniversary of the National Guard, in the presence of formations of army soldiers presenting exciting performances.
In the middle of the speech, the president stops talking in surprise and looks up after hearing a huge explosion in the sky, immediately a number of guards lead to put ballistic shields in front of him, then chaos reigns in the place within two seconds, before we hear another explosion in a nearby building, and everyone withdraws run away. In the end, it turned out that what happened was an attempt by one of the dissident groups to assassinate President Maduro, which resulted in seven casualties, and although it did not succeed in achieving its ultimate goal, the manner in which this operation was performed was remarkable, as the bombs were loaded on a light commercial “drone”. It was wirelessly piloted at close range so that it would detonate after it reached the location of Maduro's speech.
From the first moment when the idea of having a drone appeared in someone’s brain, more than a century ago, it was expected that we would reach that moment when an attempt to assassinate a head of state through commercial drones that you can find in the markets in many countries, That's because the idea is simple, easy and tempting, and all it took to make it possible was some relatively long time, to get to what we now know as loitering munition, or more famously: "suicide drones."
What happened in Venezuela was the work of amateurs, those drones were not designed to carry anything, but explosives were attached to them, and the goal was to reach Maduro from where it does not count, but militarily, the suicide drones are a drone designed for one purpose, it seems clear from its name, which is the direction To something, anything, and blow it up. At that point, let's travel back in time, to the 1990s, when suicide drones called IAI Harpy became a working tool in the war market.
Despite many previous attempts, the "Harpy" (1), produced by Israel through the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), is the first effective model of a suicide drone actually used in war. The plane has very good capabilities, with a length and width of about two and a half meters, a weight of 135 kilograms for the vehicle and 32 kilograms for the warhead, with the ability to travel more than five hundred kilometers, and it is launched from a launch platform installed on a truck that can carry about 20 pieces, and includes the "Harpy" battery. Generally three trucks of this type (equivalent to 60 aircraft), can also be launched from a ship or aircraft.
The plane's trajectory towards the target area is planned at the ground station and stored inside it. After that, it self-launches to the specified reconnaissance area and begins "loitering" above looking for radar frequencies (which guides anti-aircraft missiles), usually its main target. When Harpy detects the location of the radar antenna, it orients itself like a missile and detonates the warhead it's carrying.
The advantages of this type of suicide drone are amazing compared to the well-known guided missiles (cruise), as it controls its own speed and direction, and can operate in any weather, and can loite for long hours above the target area to find a specific target, in addition, it can be stopped Executing the mission at any time within one second, even if the drone is already on its way to hitting the target, all of this made "HARPY", with its largest companion in size and currently most famous "HAROP", a piece of gold in the eyes of all armies of the world, especially Last year 2020 during the "Covid-19" pandemic.
Of course, the cause was not the pandemic, but the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In this particular war (the Nagorno-Karabakh war 2020), which lasted for six weeks, Azerbaijan used "Harup" along with three other models of suicide drones (200 units of each model), all produced by Israel Aerospace Industries.
It is believed that this unique piece of technology, for the first time in the history of warfare, was instrumental in winning a war, as it represented the first use of collectively loitering munitions against a fully operational state army.
Some reports (2) indicated that the Azerbaijani drones contributed to disabling a large number of Armenian tanks, combat vehicles, artillery units and air defenses.
The penetration of drones deep into Nagorno-Karabakh also weakened the Armenian supply lines and logistics, which subsequently facilitated Azerbaijan's success in battle.
From a tactical point of view (3), Armenian trenches, excavations, bunkers, armored vehicles, and other places that troops tend to shelter in on the battlefield are likely to turn into mass graves with a plethora of munitions hanging out in the sky (see attached video). Thus, this battle has become the most powerful example of how small and relatively inexpensive suicide drones can change the dimensions of conflicts that were dominated by ground battles and conventional air power.
As you read this report now, there are dozens of advanced (4) types of suicide drones spread around the world, and while the year 2020 witnessed an evolution in the rates of acquisition of suicide planes, it also witnessed a new development in its technology, to understand this development let's start from The first scene of the movie "Angel Has Fallen" 2019, where the American president is on a picnic and then swarms of drones that seem to work in harmony with each other set off from nearby, before they begin to explode themselves with everything that moves, to end the process with Dozens dead.
Compare this with the recent announcement (5) by the Chinese Academy of Electronics and Information Technology (CAEIT) of successful Chinese tests of a swarm of 48 drones blasting off a truck on the ground in a matter of seconds.
Here, let us remember that the matter is not only related to the large number, as these planes are designed to coordinate among themselves, meaning that they exchange information and calculate their probabilities from different angles and then reach a decision that expresses the sum of the views of all the planes, it is similar - to a large extent - What happens in cases of swarms of bees or ants.
These swarms are usually programmed with the same laws that work with swarms of fish, for example, take the "Boid" system (6), which - simply - governs the work of a huge group of contiguous points swimming together without leadership, through three deterministic laws governing One at a time: don't crash into your neighbor, keep up with his speed and direction, be as close to the center of the team as you can.
Let's imagine now that there are 80 drones flying next to each other, the planes move completely randomly at first, but each of them is programmed to apply the three rules. The programmed rules are also applied in them and they are organized with the moving team. This happens in several areas of the swarm, and the small groups move little by little to join each other, forming one huge group.
This is just one of the simple rules that can be used to develop a swarm of suicide drones that work in harmony with each other, and according to analysts (7) in this regard, China's recent experience means that we are entering a new era in which air defense systems may lose their capabilities almost completely. If a single suicide drone attack on a site is difficult to repel, then the attack of a flock of them on the same site will be impossible to confront, and even knowing that such an attack is possible is psychologically exhausting and frustrating the morale of the forces on the ground.
As you can see, the development of suicide drones is going in the direction that almost all warfare technology wants, which is autonomy. The client, who is usually a country that wants to develop its army, or a militia that wants to increase its capabilities, is looking for weapons that can travel towards the target and analyze the situation with the highest computational capabilities, then take the most accurate and appropriate decision, and implement it immediately to obtain the largest possible losses for the enemy, capable weapons as well She has to learn and increase her experience and accuracy with time, doesn't this sound familiar?! Of course now you know what we're talking about, it's artificial intelligence.
Several months ago, the US National Security Committee for Artificial Intelligence issued its report (8) to the government, in which it clarified that the use of artificial intelligence in war - which has already begun - would constitute a technical revolution that would go beyond the discovery of both gunpowder and nuclear weapons, and the committee recommended doubling investment in Scientific research on this scale year after year to increase its value from 1.5 billion dollars now to 32 billion dollars by 2026!
The report does not exaggerate anything, with the presence of suicide drones and the integration of artificial intelligence into them, we will be facing something that no one can stop in the future. The most important thing to reflect on is that this technical development provides small states, as well as armed groups, very cheap access to tactical aviation and precision-guided weapons. , enabling it to destroy opponent's more expensive equipment such as tanks and air defense systems, which could change the power equations worldwide.
Even writing these words, and despite the success achieved by suicide drones in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, in addition to its widespread use globally (especially in the conflicts of the Arab world during the past few years), the research debate still exists about its effectiveness, is it really excellent, or Is it just a new addition to the wars?
But everyone agrees on two things, the first is that the regular armies should receive training related to this type of drone, and the second is that the future is terrifying!
HARPY Autonomous Weapon for All Weather
The Air and Missile War in Nagorno-Karabakh: Lessons for the Future of Strike and Defense
The Dawn of the Loitering Munitions Era
ATTACK OF THE DRONES China unveils terrifying new weapon that launches swarm of suicide drones to annihilate targets
Boys Background and Update
China Conducts Test Of Massive Suicide Drone Swarm Launched From A Box On A Truck
Final Report National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence