We had some spirited discussions in these pages a few days ago (follow those three links to find the articles), concerning terrorist attacks on a Russian airbase in Syria, using ‘hobbyist’-style quadcopter drones as well as some homemade larger models. Some people are still unconvinced that the former pose any realistic threat.
Now Boeing has announced the development – in just three months from ‘clean-sheet’ concept to a flying prototype – of an octocopter that can carry payloads of up to 500 pounds.
Octocopters big enough to carry a human passenger have already been announced. If Boeing can build something like that shown above in three months, using off-the-shelf components, I’m willing to bet a backyard mechanic team can do something similar in a year or so. Given that sort of payload capability – 500 pounds is the weight of a standard USAF Mark 82 bomb – there are all sorts of nasty weapon and target combinations that come to mind.
Amazon.com is already talking about using UAV’s to deliver parcels and packages. UPS and FedEx are doing the same. We’ll soon be seeing something like this drone in the skies around our homes. Terrorists are sure to figure out that by painting their drone in familiar colors, and sticking a couple of commercial logos on it, and wrapping its payload in cardboard or plastic to resemble a commercial delivery, they can operate their drones with virtual impunity. I damn well guarantee it. This genie is well and truly out of the bottle.