Drone Warfare

Podcast: Israel is the only state taking the drone threat seriously – Professor David Dunn

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An Iron Dome surface-to-air missile is fired to intercept a rocket fired into Israel from Gaza.

Israel’s “very expensive, very elaborate Iron Dome” stops aerial systems targeting its nuclear facilities. (Image:Israel Defense Forces/Flickr)

A British academic and expert in international studies says the biggest threat of drone technology is its potential use by terrorists and other non-state actors with “malign intent”.

Yet Israel is “perhaps the only state in the world who have taken the drone threat very seriously”, says Professor David Dunn.

The University of Birmingham academic told the Bureau’s podcast the “biggest potential use of drone technology is not by traditional militaries” but by non-state actors.

Israel has “a very expensive, very elaborate Iron Dome system” to autonomously intercept rockets and drones trying to kill civilians or “penetrate the outer sarcophagus of the nuclear at Dimona and therefore cause a nuclear event”.

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Dunn believes other states should take the threat seriously too. It is entirely possible for someone to fly a drone “from some part of Ireland into either the Selafield nuclear power station or into the nuclear submarine base at Faslane. Or indeed flown low across the channel from a suburb in Paris into a public building in London.

“During the Olympics this threat was taken very seriously,” he continued. After the games, “those defences have been unpacked. The questions is whether that was prudent.”

Also in this episode, the Bureau’s Alice K Ross reports on the bloodiest drone strike to hit Pakistan in more than a year.

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Responses to this story

  • Jon-Paul says:

    July 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I cannot help but agree with Martha Gellhorn, I understand that this piece may not [almost certainly does not?] reflect the views of the Bureau but this is absolute rubbish. Offensive and absolute rubbish.

    Which military manufacturer pays “Professor” Dunn’s wages? Or is it the MoD..? This kind of hyper-securitised nonsense is music to their ears. Maybe there’s an investigation in that for the Bureau? Israel has terrorised Gazans with cutting-edge drones for years, yet here’s this Professor sitting in his ivory tower waxing lyrical about Hamas’s primitive drones. Staggering.

    And for what it’s worth, the needless, tragic deaths by Israeli drone and aerial strikes (as well as a brutal ground invasion) have risen to over 650 people. Six hundred and fifty people.

  • Alice K Ross says:

    July 18, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Thank you for your comments. It is a valuable point that you raise regarding Israeli drone strikes and air strikes more broadly. The podcast interviews are very brief – so cannot cover all aspects of drone war. They also feature experts on various fields relating to drones and covert war expressing their views on a subject and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bureau.

  • Martha Gellhorn says:

    July 18, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Hang your heads in shame Bureau!

    What a load of nonsense the Prof is spouting. Non-state groups using drones are the biggest threat? Really? You yourselves document more between 400-900 civilians killed by US armed drones…

    But what’s even worse is that you focus on Hamas use of drones WITHOUT EVEN MENTIONING Israeli drone strikes! AND in a week when more than 250 people have been killed by Israel air and drone strikes which even mainstream media reports is 75%-80% civilians.

    Hope we can chalk this up to the silly season and you go back to proper reporting.