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Warfare against IEDs (improvised explosive devices) has been on the US Defense Administration agenda for a long time. Lessons have been learned also from Israel’s operational activities in this field. In mid-2016 the U.S. Department of Defense asked Congress for an additional $20 million to develop countermeasures to the growing Islamic terrorist use of cheap commercial UAVs. The Islamic terrorists, especially ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), have been using these UAVs more frequently in the last few years and the Department of Defense believes ISIL is planning to eventually use these commercial UAVs as flying bombs. The defense administration organization JIDO has long been working on better ways to detect and deal with non-flying IEDs and considers bomb equipped UAVs a flying IED.

The Department of Defense points out that since September 11, 2001 two-thirds of the Americans killed in combat were the victims of IEDs in the form of roadside bombs and (much less often) mines. JIDO, that has been spotting and defeating bomb equipped commercial UAVs, wants more money to get results faster.

There have been electronic chatter among Islamic terrorists about the possibility of armed commercial UAVs. According to Strategy Page, U.S. counter-IED tactics concentrate on discovering who is organizing the IED effort, and then going after the key members of that organization. This is done using a combination of powerful computer software, and traditional detective and military intelligence methods. Those same methods have been picking up more discussions about using commercial UAVs and eventually arming them.

JIDO found out that the most effective tactic was to take out the leaders and technical specialists (bomb builders). That worked in Iraq, it worked in Afghanistan and worked in Israel.

Going after commercial UAVs is not just to eliminate explosive UAVS but also unarmed UAVs used for reconnaissance by Islamic terrorists. For the moment the Islamic terrorists do not have enough UAVs for anything but reconnaissance. These are often shot down or lost due to equipment failure or operator error. Money is often scarce in Islamic terror groups and there are more urgent priorities (like more guns, bullets and food). But the Department of Defense believes it’s only a matter of time and wants to be ready.