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The United States has never had a monopoly on drones. It was the Israeli Air Force’s use of drones during its war in Lebanon in the 1980s that first prompted a skeptical U.S. military to support fully the development of remote-controlled systems. The decision to arm them came later, during the hunt for Osama bin Laden after 2001 and the war on terrorism. By now, U.S. drone strikes are a regular occurrence in areas where terrorist organizations have taken root.
Drone technology and drone use have also proliferated in other countries. And even more are seeking to develop their own systems. These systems are likely to be more local affairs than those of the United States. Most of the emerging drone states -- including China -- lack the United States’ worldwide network of military bases and satellites, which allow it to operate drones far from its own borders. And, like the United States, emerging drones states are eager to develop armed drones for counterterrorism operations and surveillance. With more drones in more places come more security and policy challenges for the United States. To deal with them, it will have to come up with a new drone policy.