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An armed drone is a very effective weapon, but it is important to understand the legal and moral repercussions of growing use of this technology. Until recently, only a few countries had such UAV technology. The United States and Israel are the main players in the field, along with some allies operating their systems. But the use of armed UAV is growing. Earlier this month Pakistan used an armed drone to attack a target in northern Waziristan (on the border of Pakistan-Afghanistan). Many experts in the west were surprised by the advanced assault and gathered it must be Chinese technology.
Estimation is that both China and Iran have armed operational UAVs and several countries have expressed interest in purchasing this technology. Even on-state players such as Hezbollah are striving for these vehicles. A research conducted last June by US think tank the Center for a New American Security noted that 90 countries are now operating UAVs of some sort and at least 30 of them are operating or are interested in developing armed drones.
The issue of drone attacks, however, is often controversial. UAVs offer the attacking country to not expose the operating soldiers to any danger, and some see this ability as an “unfair’ advantage over the weaker side. But it would be naive to believe that war should be fair. After all, decreasing danger to your own troops and increasing threat on your enemy are essential to any war.
Even so, the spread of UAVs could destabilize global economy. Their ability to respond rapidly, to loiter over an area for hours and to pick out a small target and strike it with a high degree of precision, all mean that they are weapons that are likely to be resorted to with increasing frequency. Furthermore, one major security dilemma comes from the civilian drones technology becoming increasingly popular, and being available to terror and crime organizations to be upgraded to armed drones, thus being able to hurt the population as they please.
So, the strategic, legal and moral issues that rise from the use of armed drones are many and will probably be growing in numbers, as the weapon will be distributed to more and more countries. It is preferable to start initiating international treaties and establish norms and restrictions over their, before is it too late.