A consumer drone hovering in the forrest.
The Technology

How consumer drones are reshaping modern defense tactics

Drones have been around for quite a while now and UAVs are nothing new when it comes to armed conflicts. In fact, drones were used in warfare already in the 1940s, equipped with simple cameras or radio systems that served as rudimentary spy tools. Now, they have taken a more prominent role than ever and consumer drones are changing the playing field.

The rise of consumer drones

Consumer drones quickly rose in popularity in the early 2010s when the Chinese company DJI launched Phantom. A drone with a 1 km range and a video camera that made aerial photography available for everyone. DJI is still the dominant player on the market and drones are more common than ever. They have also improved immensely, with high-quality cameras, better battery time, and longer range at the same time as they have become more affordable.

Drones are forcing a change in defense tactics

The same qualities that have made consumer drones so popular have also turned them into useful tools for war and their affordability is game-changing. Drone strikes have been talked about for at least 20 years but these highly advanced UAVs are extremely expensive. This made them a scarce tool that was mainly used by the most advanced military superpowers. 

Now, you can buy a new drone for about $300. They’re easy to maneuver and can be controlled with a regular smartphone. Consumer drones do not have anywhere near the same capabilities as high-end military drones but they change up the dynamic of the battlefield forever. 

On the news, we mainly see talk about suicide drones but they are mainly used as scouting tools. Spotting enemy vehicles behind ridges and buildings while the operator remains safe. Drones have also become an essential tool for artillery crews to spot and pinpoint enemy positions. Vastly improving accuracy and reducing the amount of rounds used.

Vital equipment for the modern field soldier

Drones used to be operated by highly trained pilots, far from the action, often on a completely different continent. Now the majority of drones are being operated in the field by regular soldiers. The lightweight drones are easily carried, simple to use and their scouting capabilities are invaluable.

Of course, consumer drones with unsecured signals are not perfect tools for warfare, and secure options, aimed toward the defense sector will be the go-to choice. The same thing applies to the controller, a smartphone is not designed to survive in the field. Modern armies will replace them with a truly rugged tactical Android device that can take a beating. In the future, the two are likely going to be a part of every modern soldier’s toolkit.