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The Military Robotics United States Hardware

Defending Against Drones 368

theodp writes "The US has not had to truly think about its air defense since the Cold War. But as America embraces the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, Newsweek says it's time to consider how our greatest new weapon may come back to bite us. Smaller UAVs' cool, battery-powered engines make them difficult to hit with conventional heat-seeking missiles. And while Patriot missiles can take out UAVs, at $3 million apiece such protection carries a steep price tag, especially if we have to deal with $500 DIY drones."
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Defending Against Drones

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  • Defense? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 )
    Defense? The purpose of the US military as per the US Constitution? Heck, our military and political leaders forgot about defense a loooong time ago. It's been all about offense since the end of WWII. The US hasn't been involved in any military action that we didn't start in the first place, so this should be a tough one for the brass to wrap their heads around.
    • Re:Defense? (Score:5, Funny)

      by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:32AM (#31296524) Journal
      Yeah, those USD500 drones aren't gonna fly across the pacific, atlantic or artic oceans anytime soon.

      Still cheap drones might be useful for attackers already in the USA. I wonder how many patriot (or similar) banks are deployed in the USA.

      But if people are willing to die, it's going to be hard to stop them if they're not too stupid. The drone then is the human+payload+vehicle.

      Maybe they should just spend a few millions getting those young angry guys laid... That should de-drone a few of them. A "bird" in each arm might be worth 72 houris in wherever-land. :).
      • by Nicolas MONNET ( 4727 ) <nicoaltiva AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:49AM (#31296938) Journal

        In fact a private drone (from a university) has already done that years ago, across the Atlantic. It certainly cost a lot more than $500, but components have gone down in price quite a lot.

        My crappy EasyStar ($60 of glorified styrofoam) can fly for almost an hour with a brushless motor on a 11V, 1200mA.h battery that costs around $30. It wouldn't be too hard in the near future to build a drone covered with lightweight solar cells, and enough batteries to stay airborne during the night. The EasyStar can already easily accommodate 200g of payload, for a total weight of one kg or two.

        With an Arduino it's already super easy to build a drone with GPS guiding. But even if GPS is jammed it's not much harder to implement inertial positioning, and beyond that cell phone relay trilateration to lock in on a target. Each of those features can be had in a 1g integrated package.

        Those are still vulnerable to military jamming, but at a significant cost to the target. There are other ways around this: sun tracking has not been done AFAIK but it shouldn't be too hard to do. We have *slightly* better clocks than mariners of the old time and that's what they used. At night, star tracking is also a possibility. Then some DIY drone people are experimenting with magnetic sensors, which is what migratory birds use.

        In conclusion, drones are gonna be a problem, and I suspect states are going to try to ban them, to obviously no effect since all it takes are cell phone components (lithium batteries, microcontrollers, GPS receivers), some styrofoam and a few cheap power electronics components (brushless motors, controllers, and servos). Oh and duct tape. They better ban duct tape quick.

        • by Clover_Kicker ( 20761 ) <> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:11PM (#31297054)

          I can think of a zillion things to hit just flying by line of sight.

          You could target oil tankers, hell even oil refineries.

          What's the propaganda value of head-shotting the statue of liberty?

          • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:00PM (#31297402) Journal
            If you send just one small drone (which will cost more than USD500 if you include a payload that will actually cause significant damage) across an ocean to the USA, they may not figure out where its from. If you actually hit something of value with that tiny drone it's not going to do much really except maybe cause a few more oppressive/stupid laws to be passed.

            If you send thousands or more you can do far more damage, but then the USA will more easily figure out where they are coming from and bomb your country to bits. If they feel like it (e.g. the drones aren't coming from Russia or China or their allies), they might even get permission from the UN first.

            If you're a terrorist that has already got into the USA, such drones aren't really necessary if you want to cause a lot of damage, especially if you can already somehow get quantities of high explosives that a drone can use (if you can't, your drones aren't going to do much damage - just kill a few people). Might as well just put the bomb in a shopping mall, or cinema, or bus, or subway. Not too difficult to walk into such places and get out (you might even be able to disguise yourself or plant it on another person/vehicle).

            What small cheap drones might be good for is trying to harass the USA out of your country. e.g. they are already in your country and possibly have already bombed it. In these scenarios it's not so simple to just walk in to a US military site, plant the bomb and leave to do it again another day. So that's where a drone might be useful.

            Then the US Military will need to defend itself against such drones.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              If you actually hit something of value with that tiny drone it's not going to do much really except maybe cause a few more oppressive/stupid laws to be passed.

              I wonder how many true terrorists will read that and instantly be sold on the idea of low-cost drones...

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by zacronos ( 937891 )
                Eh, maybe a bare few, but I honestly don't buy that crap that "they hate us for our freedom". (There's some serious propaganda.) Even assuming there are some who hate us for our e.g. religious freedom, they won't exactly thinks those new oppressive/stupid laws are progress towards their goal.
    • Re:Defense? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:46AM (#31296588)

      The best defense is a good offense. You know who said that? Mel, the cook on "Alice".

        - Ed Gruberman

    • Re:Defense? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FriendlyLurker ( 50431 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:47AM (#31296598)
      As US war hero Maj General S.Butler [], the most highly decorated Marine by the time of his death (not to mention also single-handedly preventing the closest coup d’état overthrow of a United States President []), described US foreign "defense" policy way back in the 1930's:

      I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

      • Re:Defense? (Score:4, Informative)

        by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:13AM (#31296752)

        Yea, a lot of people go a bit nutty in their old age. You may want to check out what else Butler said:

        In November 1934, Butler told the committee that a group of businessmen, backed by a private army of 500,000 ex-soldiers and others, intended to establish a fascist dictatorship. Butler had been asked to lead it, he said, by Gerald P. MacGuire, a bond salesman with Grayson M-P Murphy & Co. The New York Times reported that Butler had told friends that General Hugh S. Johnson, a former official with the National Recovery Administration, was to be installed as dictator. Butler said MacGuire had told him the attempted coup was backed by three million dollars, and that the 500,000 men were probably to be assembled in Washington, D.C. the following year. All the parties alleged to be involved, including Johnson, said there was no truth in the story, calling it a joke and a fantasy.[43]

        • Did you actually read the parent post? He mentioned the Business Plot already.

          • Yeah, I skipped over that part, so I was under the impression that he was actually a rational person. My bad. If I had realized that he's the type who can honestly believe that a Secret Army of a half-million soldiers was ramping up to take over the US ... well, I'd probably have referred him to a psychiatrist instead.

        • Re:Defense? (Score:5, Informative)

          by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:28PM (#31297178) Homepage

          If you read more about the Business Plot, you'd find out that the Congressional Committee that investigated it thought that the allegations were credible. However, for some strange reason the investigation soon stopped after names like duPont and JP Morgan started coming up. The standard historical interpretation of the Business Plot these days is that there was something there, and some of those industrialists wanted to do what Butler accused them of organizing, but that they hadn't gotten anywhere near the point where they could actually pull it off.

          For instance, journalist John Spivak was able to get access to the committee's report in 1967, and this is what he found:
          "MacGuire denied [Butler's] allegations under oath, but your committee was able to verify all the pertinent statements made to General Butler, with the exception of the direct statement suggesting the creation of the organization. This, however, was corroborated in the correspondence of MacGuire with his principle, Robert Sterling Clark, of New York City, while MacGuire was abroad studying the various form of veterans' organizations of Fascist character."

    • Re:Defense? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:56AM (#31296968) Homepage
      Did you forget? September 11th was a declaration of war on us. We were forced to retaliate. There's a comprehensive 10 second video explanation here [].
  • Hey... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    what about bullets? They have been in the market for quite long already.
    • Re:Hey... bullets! (Score:3, Informative)

      by thms ( 1339227 )

      Not like they used to. Air burst rounds [] will likely be the next iteration in the infantry arms race: Essentially a grenade that files in a flat trajectory and can detonate where ever you tell it to, such as "that line of sandbags, plus 1m" and then you aim above the sandbags.

      They certainly will come in handy against your average "terrorist" armed with an AK-47, but once these types of guns are available to both sides of a conflict it will get real ugly. I certainly hope they remain a technology demonstra

      • by v1 ( 525388 )

        I certainly hope they remain a technology demonstrator only by some gentlemans agreement.

        Oh that holds out well in war. They can't even reasonably hold the Geneva Convention.

  • Arm your citizens... (Score:3, Informative)

    by saleenS281 ( 859657 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:26AM (#31296502) Homepage
    It would seem to me if every citizen knew how to properly shoot a rifle, odds are pretty good one of those things could be knocked out of the sky with a barrett. It would cost all of us a heck of a lot less money too.

    In fact... this is exactly the sort of thing the 2nd amendment was written for. "The people" defending themselves from attack.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You can't shoot a plane flying at 30,000-40,000 feet out of the sky with a rifle. For that matter, you'd be damn lucky to hit one at 5,000 feet.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I should add: I've got no problem with teaching everyone to shoot. Mandatory gun training might save some lives currently lost to stupidity.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I should add: I've got no problem with teaching everyone to shoot. Mandatory gun training might save some lives currently lost to stupidity.

          Training people to shoot has never been a problem. Giving stupid people guns, regardless of their training, is.

      • A $500 RC plane can't fly at 30-40,000 feet. It would also struggle to make it to 5,000 feet. They're talking about drones that would be flying at several hundred feet at most if they're carrying any kind of a load... which is the primary concern.
        • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:46AM (#31296584)
          The original article is talking about military drones. The $500 toy is a reference added by the editor. (I admit it could have some tactical survellance value, if you could launch it from nearby). While you could build a small piston engine + prop powered drone for a few thousand dollars, it would still have to be fairly big in order to carry a militarily useful payload and travel the necessary distance. Such a drone will not fly at tree top levels; and, if it did, you'd never see it before it was too late to do anything about it.
        • A $500 RC plane isn't going to be carrying any kind of load that can do any real damage.

          Sure, you can pack an RC plane with some C-4 and just fly it kamikaze style into something, but it still couldn't be much more C-4 than the amount needed to blow the lock off a door. Explosives have weight, and RC planes can't carry much extra weight. Given the imprecision of flying one of these things any distance whatsoever, I would think you'd have to carry a tremendous amount of explosives to be able to reliably ta

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Skidborg ( 1585365 )

            Why would you think it would actually be easier for a drone to get through?

            Because you can afford to swarm them. Do you know how much a Tu-95 bomber costs? Divide by $500, and you've got the number of toy flying bombs you might have to contend with instead. If you're spending tens of thousands to shoot each one down you're losing the war even if you're not taking any direct damage from the drones themselves.

          • That's not even mentioning the range. We fly drones in Afghanistan from Afghanistan. Where is somebody going to launch a drone attack on the United States from?

            Mexico? Canada? Caribbean islands?

            I'm sure there are a few targets inside the US that'd be reachable from non-US locations.

            And there are middle grounds between "$100 RC planes" and "million dollar military hardware". I'm sure that, with access to a credit card with a good limit and commercially available / hobbyist parts you could put something useful together without too much heart-ache.

          • Well, I dare to disagree, having some insight in the development of RC planes. Recently the engines of those little buzzers got really powerful, with cheap imports from China they also got very affordable. Model planes that carry some sort of ordnance are hardly impossible, planes that carry candy to "bomb" spectators with are already a staple of RC shows. Thrust-weight ratios beyond 1 are anything but a dream anymore (and of course made it into funny new acrobatic tricks). You can of course put this thrust

        • The EasyStar, the base for most DIY drone experiments, is a 1.3 m wide slab of styrofoam -- 700g worth of it. It doesn't have to fly at 30000 feet to be hard to shoot down. I doubt you could take that down at a few hundred feet, let alone a few thousand.

      • Your $500 drone isn't going to be very effective from 30k feet either, though. By the time it closes to a range that it can be combat effective at, it will pass nearby enough to several people who, if they had arms and a modicum of practice at the skeet range, would be able to have a chance at partially disabling it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      That's an incredibly bad idea. Compare terminal velocity and total energy on a .50 cal rifle round to typical calibers and you'll see why. Laser point defense would make more sense; using drones to fight drones makes even more.

      • Well, it depends on which kind of drone you're talking about. If it's the military drone, then yes it would be more than likely a moot point. But if you're talking about a battery powered drone, it won't have the same kind of armor (it doesn't have the power to support that much weight and still have a useful payload). I would think small arms would be particularly effective, since such a cheap drone would likely fly low and slow...
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          I would think small arms would be particularly effective, since such a cheap drone would likely fly low and slow...

          Low and slow are both relative. If people start shooting at drones, drones will start shooting at people; having the advantage of high ground (barring space, the sky is the ultimate high ground) and size means that the drones will win. Drones will start dropping bundles of dronelets soon enough, as well. You have no hope of shooting down swarms of explosive drones the size of your hand.

    • by Obyron ( 615547 )
      The Barrett rifles would still cost more than the drone you're shooting down. Granted, it's at least reusable, but every citizen would have to bag something like 15-20 drones for it to be cost effective.
      • Tell your citizens that they're a really big threat and that you can offer them the solution in a gun barrel at a very nominal price and you're done.

    • by Minupla ( 62455 ) <> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:39AM (#31296560) Homepage Journal

      The idea of hundreds of citizens firing UP INTO THE AIR trying to hit a drone scares the hell out of me... what goes up must come down, and the law of conservation of energy combine to make me think that the damage to those of us on the ground would probably be greater then what the drone could do... particularly since the drone would likely be too far above the shooters for a bullet to have any hope of finding it...


    • And what happens when the first citizen used his rifle and training to steal or kill?
      • That's no different than it is now, in this country where I can walk into WalMart and buy a hunting rifle or shotgun.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He'd probably get shot, because his victims and anyone else around will be armed and able to protect themselves.

      • by bsDaemon ( 87307 )
        Then you prosecute them for theft or murder? What's so hard about that.
        • Them as in the person who committed the crime and the US government how gave them the required tools and skills to do it?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        When everyone is armed, people behave in a different manner. Rape, robbery, and assaults tend to go down in areas which relax gun laws - while the same crimes increase in areas where more restrictive gun laws are enacted.

        It's in your best interest to arm every citizen.

    • Uhmm, it would be really hard to take out a UAV flying at 4000 feet with a shotgun...
    • It would seem to me if every citizen knew how to properly shoot a rifle, odds are pretty good one of those things could be knocked out of the sky with a barrett.

      You really put a lot of thought into this didn't you? No, the odds are far from "pretty good". There's a reason why people hunt flying birds with shotguns: the spray of pellets is much more likely to hit a fast-moving target than a single projectile, and while there are any number of people in the U.S. who are quite proficient with shotguns, only a

  • 500$ per drone - $3 000 000 to destroy a drone ... smell like we could get a nice DOS type war
    • What do you think any war of the last few decades have been? In iraq, they have old AK's, and RPGs.. We have Strykers, predators, and almost million dollar Humvees that they blow up with a few dollars of explosives and a discarded cell phone.

    • Re:DOS WAR (Score:4, Informative)

      by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:12AM (#31296746)

      Actually smells like the SDI that precipitated the fall of the USSR.. only in reverse.

      As long as we give billions of dollars to the military/security interests, to protect us against marginal or very distant threats, they, and the terrorists, win.

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      Hard to do an economical DOS when you can create from thin air new money and they can't Is not money the problem, but time (or at least already built units in each side at the moment/place where are needed)
  • Destruction is easy (Score:3, Informative)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:36AM (#31296550)
    It's always easier to destroy than to build. This is what makes terrorism so effective. It takes millions of dollars to defend against weapons costing only a few thousand dollars. A 20 thousand dollar missile can take out a 200 million dollar airplane. A boat loaded with explosives can sink a ship costing several hundred million dollars. It's expensive being on the defensive.
  • by twisteddk ( 201366 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:38AM (#31296556)

    I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that I can disable a $500 drone with little less than a portable radio, my laptop and a couple of bucks worth of radioshack equipment. Thing about the drones is that they TOO have weaknesses. And a safe, unbreakable, unhackable, wireless, remote control interface costs a LOT more than $500. And an EM emitter, or even just a remote jamming device, or in case of a wireguided or automated drone a laser to interfere with or destroy the optics seems like pretty easy to come by and cheap solutions.

    And for those really high tech drones that can survive these kinds of odds. I'm sure we can spend a cheap stinger on. Why anyone would WANT to make the leap all the way to a patriot missile, made for smashing down objects the size of a spaceshuttle is beyond me.

    • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:57AM (#31296652) Homepage

      Even high school students are dabbling in autonomous drones nowadays, and most research on autonomous vehicles is open and readily downloadable. Your jammer is not going to help too much if the drone knows what it's supposed to do without radio contact.

      And you need to know there's a drone to jam a kilometer overhead in the first place.

    • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:03AM (#31296698)

      Good luck with that. If I were designing one of those and my objective was to kill innocent people and/or disrupt a country's manufacturing/distribution infrastructure, all I need is a chip that will get it where it's going, run through a series of shape templates (a bus, train or transport truck or specific building, for example), then dive into it.

      Easy, cheap, and no external control needed. Another plus: hardening such throw-away devices is usually easy and cheap. Example: Inertial navigation to target, flip on the video for a quick look-see, then hit whatever's closest. And you build lots and lots of 'em.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GlassHeart ( 579618 )
        If you want to build "lots and lots of them", then suddenly you need a supply chain, factories, and skilled workers. All of those are more easily detected and destroyed before you have the numbers for a swarm.
    • by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:09AM (#31296732)

      it depends on the drones
      remote controlled DYI drones uses analog video (easy to jam) and FHSS UHF radio signals for control (hard to jam, but not that hard. also crackable to get the control)
      completely independent ones (like the one linked).. i dunno what you're planning, EMP wave?
      they do not need any ground communication. in fact, they one single weakness: they use GPS for orientation. The USA can disable the GPS whenever necessary.
      However some other positioning systems are coming up and its not impossible to make them fly to the right location without GPS control, actually, even without any of the satellite based systems, only using sensors and image analysis (tho those aren't as easy and well known at the DYI ones)

    • The sensor on a Stinger may not be sensitive enough to track a UAV. Remember, the Stinger is heat-seeking. A battery-powered UAV will not emit as much heat as a jet-powered or gas-fueled vehicle.

      • Brushless motors and controllers are over 90% efficient. Plus DIY drones are made of a sort of styrofoam, which traps heat and IR, all you could possibly see is the (very, very) slightly hotter air passing through cooling holes. After flying my plane the battery is about as warm as my cell phone after a long call.

    • by sponga ( 739683 )

      Wow I am sure they never thought of any of that. I love it I always come on here to find some guy who thinks he can outsmart the military and doesn't realize he was already dead long ago.

      Seriously you don't think these scientist/engineers know what stuff is out there, that they cannot jam a signal and cannot track/triangulate a signals position.

      There are many more systems than the patriot system for defense including the best of them all C-Ram which shoots explosive rounds into the air towards the target as

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:39AM (#31296558) Homepage

    I don't understand: Drones are easy to take down. A couple of dragoons or zealots should do the trick nicely, or maybe a few marines instead. Heck, you can go at em with SCVs and have a fighting chance.

    • Personally, I prefer to get a four-man killstreak and launch a counter UAV. An EMP works equally well, if you're doing especially well.
  • by sunking2 ( 521698 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:49AM (#31296614)
    It's not about the cost of what you have to shoot down but what you have to defend.
    • by FrozenGeek ( 1219968 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:39PM (#31297732)
      Not entirely true. Say you're protecting a billion-dollar asset. You have 10 million dollars for defense. I have 100 thousand dollars for offense. For 1000 dollars, I can mount an attack that costs you 1,000,000 to defend. You will have to beg, borrow, or steal, 90 million dollars to defend every attack that I can mount. Now you have a real problem.

      Even worse, Suppose I can easily obtain and assemble the parts I need for an attack. But your, for instance, Patriot missiles take rather longer to assemble (as they are much more complex). If you have 50 missiles at hand, I only need to launch 51 attacks before you get your next shipment of missiles.

      Clearly you are correct inasmuch as you won't spend 1,000,000,000 dollars to defend 200,000,000 dollars of assets. But the relative costs of defense and offense do matter.
  • As other nations develop their drones (and robotic fish and crawlers/walkers) our drones should be able to defeat theirs most of the time as long as ours are "smarter" and their senses are more acute.

    The only problem is when "most' of the time isn't good enough, either when the enemy can produces a huge number of inferior yet numerically overwhelming units (China?) OR if they carry WMD (Nuclear, Biological or Chemical) where letting just one through is catastrophic.

    That is why missile defense against a majo

  • We're back to WWI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:54AM (#31296638) Homepage

    Read about the history of air warfare during WWI, with the rise of airplanes. The situation is analogous to drones. Ultimately, drones will have defenses and counter-attacks. It's not been a big deal yet because we're fighting people who don't have access to the technology, but that will change.

  • Lasers? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by selven ( 1556643 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @10:55AM (#31296640)

    Would it be possible to build tripod mounted lasers to lock onto a drone and just keep firing at it until the battery explodes / circuitry melts? Locking on should be easy since $500 drones won't be going at 200 meters per second. A laser working with household level power should be able to fry a drone in a few minutes.

  • by symes ( 835608 )
    what would be wrong with a hefty eloctromagnetic pulse - so long as it was aimed in the right direction and there was nothing else nearby then this would knock them out. Or even a nice big laser :) these drones are pretty slow moving right?
  • by RockClimbingFool ( 692426 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:02AM (#31296688)
    Seriously. If we can shoot down mosquitos [] with optically guided lasers for $50, surely we can shoot down drones?
  • By the time our enemi...ZERG RUSH! RUN!
  • Economics!.. what if a $500 drone destroy a $500 drone?

  • by GuyFawkes ( 729054 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:34AM (#31296868) Homepage Journal

    A 500 buck drone, capable of carrying 250g of c4, with a range of 5 km and an endurance of 30 minutes, could bring a country to its knees.


    Satellite dish LNBs, High Tension cable insulators, refinery pipework, radar dishes on weaponry, etc etc etc.

    use two, the first the blow an access into a window, and EVERY important computer is a target, bank computers, traffic control computers, air traffic control, industrial process, etc etc etc.

    Use 5, meshed together, and the fifth could be flown inside a rabbit warren, SCRAM control sensors in a reactor plant, you name it.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @11:57AM (#31296974)

    We gotta keep finding new threats. Otherwise defense contractor stock would drop! We can't have that!

  • Terror weapon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oh2 ( 520684 ) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @12:45PM (#31297300) Homepage Journal
    Consider a small freighter, 200 km off New York. It launches a few hundred small unmanned planes, guided by a small computer autopilot. Each plane carries four thermite stick bombs, similar to the ones used in WWII. When the planes reach the vicinity of New York they climb to a few hundred meters altitude and start dropping the thermite devices. What was cutting edge tech 70 years ago is garage tech today.
  • Sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:41PM (#31297758) Journal

    As someone who likes flying model helicopters, I can see it won't be long until the government bans that on fears that "I might be a terrorist wanting to fly my T-Rex 600 into something", closing off yet another avenue of harmless pleasure.

System checkpoint complete.