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Drone Problem? Call up the Good Old Boys

This whole business of cheapo drones dominating modern battlefields has got me wondering if our military planners have forgotten about Occam’s Razor. For the philosophically disadvantaged, that’s a theory which essentially says the simplest solution to a problem is probably better than something more complex. I keep reading about the metric tons of cash flooding the techno-geeks working on counter-drone weaponry and wondering if a platoon or two of good old boys armed with 10-gauge goose guns wouldn’t be quicker and cheaper solution to part of the problem.

Understand that a bunch of experienced duck-hunters shooting from front-line blinds won’t have much effect on those big pterodactyl-like things that fly high and fast operated by pilots located on the other side of the world. We’re all bound to live with enemy versions of the Predators and Reapers that provide all-seeing eyes in the sky or carry bombs and missiles. I’m talking here about those little quad-copter deals that dart and dash over battlefields like the Ukraine where small drones are employed for reconnaissance, fire control or direct attack with smaller munitions such as impact-fused grenades or RPG warheads. Wander the aisles of your local Walmart and you can find these remote-control devices that range from the size of corn-fed quail to a Canadian goose. Step over to the sporting goods department and you’ll likely find a bunch of camo-clad hunters debating things like shotgun chokes, steel versus tungsten shot, and the water fowler’s cardinal sin of shooting a sitting duck.

These are the kind of hunters we need in the face of drone swarms featuring little quad-copter weapons. Never mind their age or expanding beltlines. Put these guys on a PT program and sign them up immediately for a low-cost anti-drone outfit that swats those irritating and ubiquitous little buzzers out of the sky wherever they swarm over our conventional military forces. And while you’re at it, offer these gents a blue-water option aboard US Navy ships that attract small drones like seagulls these days. Save the heavy machine guns, lead storms from Close In Weapons Systems (CWIS), and pricey missiles for those high-flyers.

When you’re dealing with a relatively low and slow FPV (First Person View) drone just checking you out for a later, larger strike, swat ’em out of the air like veteran wing-shooters on a covey of quail. Not sure how much .50 caliber ammo, a CWIS system, or a Navy Standard Missile runs these days but it’s got to be a bunch more than 500 bucks or so which is what a small one-shot kamikaze drone costs. For cost-effective comparison, consider about a grand for a good 10-gauge and about three bucks for a round of waterfowl ammo.

Thinking about all this led me–as it always does–down a research rabbit hole, where I discovered that man-portable, frontline weapons are already in the research and development stages. Some have even been tried by drone-plagued Ukrainian forces aiming for Russian or Chinese-supplied drones (the most common is a version of the Chinese Mavic at around $1,500 to $3,000 per copy) without much success. The problem with these little disrupters is that they fire electrons rather than rounds in an effort to confuse or misdirect a small recon or attack drone. Enter a version of artificial intelligence that creates a mindless, pre-programmed version of a drone that can’t be jammed once it locks on a target.

Occam’s Razor again if you ask me. No need to jam the electronics on something if you can just blow out of the air in the middle of its attack profile. Sure, you’re liable to get a big bang and a shrapnel storm if the drone you hit is carrying high-explosive or an anti-tank round, but that’s why we have helmets and flak-jackets. There it is. Another stroke of uninformed genius from an aging veteran morphing rapidly into a curmudgeon. I’ll just sit here and wait for the Pentagon to call for details.

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