It can be said that, nowadays, drones have created a revolution in combat capabilities of the advanced armies of the world. The development entered into a new phase especially after the nine /eleven attacks and beginning of the so-called “War against Terror” and arming the Predator reconnaissance drones made in the USA. However, the use of earlier generations of military drones could be traced in Vietnam War and occupation of Lebanon by the Zionist regime in 1982, but Predator was considered as the first generation of advanced drones capable of carrying out three different missions of reconnaissance, surveillance and attack simultaneously against the targets in the battle fields. Moreover, it could fly for hours in the sky without refueling. Today in battles, if a country can maintain its control over skies, it can obtain the control on the ground as well. Creation of drones in different sizes with special capabilities to carry out various missions prove their efficiency and numerous potentials and can open up their way in armed conflicts as well as security crises.
In the recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the army of Azerbaijan republic used its drone fleet which was acquired from Turkey and the Zionist regime within the past few years with remarkable investment, and managed to regain a considerable part of its national territories that had lost and was occupied by Armenia after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and independence of its former republics.
On November 9, 2020 a six-week conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh ended. Within the framework of ceasefire agreement, Azerbaijan can maintain those regions conquered during the conflicts. All evidences of the conflict stipulated the victory of Azerbaijan. A range of different factors helped to lead the victory of Azerbaijan but the drones bought by the country are considered to play a key role for Azerbaijan’s army in the war. According to the Azeri reports, the Army used specially Harpo drones made in Israel to decommission the air defense system, Orbiter 1-K drones made in Israel and BayraktarTB2 made in Turkey in its attacks against the positons and military forces of Armenia. Turkish made TB2 drones showed in particular, a remarkable and important performance in their attacks to defeat the Armenian military forces. The (military) experts assessed that according to declassified information, the drone played an effective role in destroying and inflicting heavy damages on Armenian forces from 23th October, i.e. two weeks before the ceasefire entered into effect. The damages included 143 tanks, 35 military vehicles, 19 armored troop carrier, 310 trucks, and tens of artilleries and ground-to-air missile systems. On the other side, Azerbaijan confirmed the missing of only one TB2 and a small number of suicidal drones.
The conflict showed the effect of drones in modern wars. But in the meantime, leads us to conclude that anti-drone systems to defend against them have also increasing importance. Now one can say clearly that drones assume the instrumental role in conventional anti-terrorist operations as well as anti-armed riots. When the threats are more complicated and upgraded in battle fronts, different types of drones in different sizes will be applied to facilitate and make more predictable the conflicts in the course of sensitive operations. Drones will enable soldiers to remain immune from dangers and to make more reasonable decisions, as well as to increase remarkably their operational efficiency.
It can, generally, be said about the capabilities of drones to make change in the forthcoming war as follows:
Information collection, Surveillance, Target selection And Reconnaissance (ISTAR)
Victory in modern wars can be attained by the armies who have the upper hand on information. Drones equipped with Electro-Optical sensors, and Infra-Red and laser GPS, are considered as effective tools in intercepting targets and to provide information in Real Time.
Logistical Operations in Transportation
Geographical conditions are never desirable in a battle field and its surroundings. Once the operation intensifies, there is a possibility that the main logistical routes, bridges, roads, garrisons, and military centers are destroyed or become inaccessible. Such a situation will leave considerable effect on logistics and morale of soldiers. Traditional method to deliver logistics will be in chaos in such a situation. Thus, drones can assume the task. Drones can be used in short and long distance missions. Necessary goods and items such as weapons, foodstuffs, medications, medical equipment, critical tools to survive, military correspondents, other military tools and equipment could be delivered to forces in the battle front and make the logistical chain survive.
Drones can accomplish military missions in large and various areas and in the fields where human beings can’t enter into operation with similar capabilities. They can save the lives of military personnel with direct images of the battle fields and timely warnings. In the course of operations which naturally require rapid reaction, drones play vital role. Their performance in saving time to neutralize the enemy is important. Military drones have capability to carry and launch air-to-ground missiles and guided bombs or other meticulous military equipment, interceptive and target systems with maximum precision.
Search & Rescue
Throughout the world, armed forces perform their operations in inaccessible and dangerous places like mountains, seas, forests and desserts. In the course of natural disasters like floods, earthquake and extensive blazes and or enemy attacks on a certain place, drones equipped with ordinary and thermal cameras can play an exceptional role in finding and rescuing the injured, casualties and missing individuals.
Communication relay in long distances
Communication sections in armed forces are always in alert position to show necessary reaction. Within the framework of hectic missions, exchange of intelligence and information between ground forces and their commanders should remain constant from hundreds of kilometers further in order to coordinate and organize their efforts to success in their mission. Usual relay ports are operational either by fixed antenna or roving antenna installed on vehicles or through helicopters and satellites as more expensive options. In addition, in battle fronts there might be very congested green camouflage, high rises or other natural obstacles to weaken the signals in reaching their destinations. Drones can be used when equipped with communication tools like repetitions (relaying systems) and flying over strategic targets and regions in order to relay or dispatch voice, image and electronic data.
Marking & targeting
Drones can send images and electronic data like GPS satellite data or radiating laser rays onto the enemy targets, send their positions to the personnel to fire artilleries or stage precise air strikes with laser guided bombs.
Creating 3D maps
Maps are the best friends of soldiers. Forces take benefit from them to strategic planning, GPS of friends and foes forces, operational planning and coordination among the interested parties. Maps are used in the process to prepare war planning and drones can prepare precise 3D maps of target area, collect and dispatch application and real time data. The technique can help prepare aerial maps based on aerial images called “photogrammetry”. Thus, the soldiers can enjoy having images and 3D maps of the operational region within minutes.
Reconnaissance of chemical, biological, nuclear material and radiation activities
The unpleasant fact in the forthcoming wars is that the friend’s front, possibly and in case of chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear attacks by enemy or terrorist groups will not have necessary preparedness. In addition, there is always a possibility of technical problems in weapons arsenals or recurrence of unwanted technical incidents when weapons are displaced or weaponry systems are deployed. Using drones in such a situation is useful. Drones can not only provide the surveillance of real time but also can considerably reduce the presence of human beings in dangerous and harmful places.
In conclusion, it can be said that drones are considered multi-purpose instruments for any country that has them in their arsenals. The advanced technology which continues to be more developed and complicated, gives the potential to its users to act based on reliable information and make decisions that can change the quality of forthcoming wars and battles. This is a proven fact that those who enjoy having this advanced technology are capable to win the forthcoming wars. Drones are among the chief and effective characteristics of this technology. Equipping drones and other military robots with “artificial intelligence” can even change them to automatic and independent arms with the least intervention by a user.