How Armed Drones Disrupt Modern Warfare

How Armed Drones Disrupt Modern Warfare

Hat tip to an anonymous Asianometry viewer for suggesting this topic and additional background.

One of the bigger things that happened in 2020 was that two countries – Azerbaijan and Armenia – fought a war. The war lasted for about 6 weeks, and it has set the air defense world ablaze.

For the first time, the world got to see a national army bring a fleet of armed drones to the battlefield. And the impact those drones have made was huge.

Using a swarm of cheap Turkish drones and Israeli loitering munitions, Azerbaijan swept aside Armenia’s air defenses and paved a road to victory.

Cheap armed drone technologies are spreading like wildfire across the world. In this video, I want to look at how such drones add new wrinkles, opportunities and challenges to modern warfare.

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50 Comments

  1. mk bijnaam on May 29, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    Why do you shy away from saying Armenia Invaded Azerbaijan at 1:19 ?? It was a part of Azarbaijan at the time no need to keep naming it by its province name its an Azeri province and the other think is Armenia invaded it dont say both armies fought the first Nagorno Karabag war . Then it sounds like it was just a war for a disputed terretory . Its not dusputed its recognized by the UN as a part of Azerbaijan . People scream theire lungs out for Ukraine now because Russia is invading but with the Armenian invasion in Azeri terretory you kinda side with Armenia

  2. Joseph on May 29, 2022 at 6:58 pm

    thank you for your research and conclusion.

  3. colin8696908 on May 29, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    Is there any truth that these low flying drone systems are basically impervious to radar.

  4. Szymon Rozanski on May 29, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    "Disrupt" I call it survival of the fittest.

  5. Vladislav Korobov on May 29, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    4-5 mil.$ drones are still quite expensive. Imagine a swarm of unarmed light drones that provide data for guiding automated artillery units. The drones will provide a bunch of geographic and meteorological data from different perspectives to a ballistic modeling system in base, that will send data to allow small infantry mortar teams hit any target with sniper precision. That would be devastating warfare indeed, and for a minimal cost either.

  6. Xero on May 29, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    "kurdish party pkk"
    dude. really?

  7. colin8696908 on May 29, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    Personally I think a lot of these countries should go back to using biplanes, they make for great ground attack aircraft. And they’re cheap as hell.

  8. Wulf on May 29, 2022 at 7:03 pm

    what a dumb title, they don’t disrupt modern warfare, they’re part of modern warfare.

  9. Joe on May 29, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    I like the military trolling of drone biplanes before modern variant

  10. LMB222 on May 29, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    *Azerbaijanis -> Azeris (at least that’s what I think the plural is)

  11. Asianometry on May 29, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    I wrote this video a few months ago, but decided to release it a little ahead of schedule.

  12. Ned Kelly on May 29, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    With a detection system like Iron fist or Trophy APS tailored to drone detection, hooked up to the weapons of a modernized M42 or somethin of alike with programable 30mm air burst munitions would be a formidable weapons system. A 50cal airburst munition (if can be manufactured) would be more beneficial for smaller targets like drones and in terms of quantity of ammunition you are able to package into a weapons system and move around before needing to be replenished. Although getting to shout UNLEASH THE EAGLES would be pretty cool.

  13. GradeY underY on May 29, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    in theory you CAN drone your way to victory.

  14. Tom C. on May 29, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    I’m surprised we don’t see more light armored self-propelled anti-aircraft platforms like the ZSU-23-4, 2K22/2S6 Tunguska, SIDAM-25, AN/TWQ-1 Avenger etc — just make them cheaper and lighter. You don’t need quad 23mm cannons to shoot down a drone.

    But I suppose you need to be able to out-range the drones. Their missiles have a pretty long range https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baykar_Bayraktar_TB2#Configuration — up to 8km for the 70mm guided rockets, 14-60km for GPS-guided missiles. Frankly, that makes traditional AAA guns ineffective — even the 57mm radar guided guns are only effective out to 6km.

    So scratch that first paragraph. You either need something like the Pantsir-S1 firing missiles out to 30+km — or what I’d really like to see is a distributed network of radar / optical detectors and missiles. You don’t need much of a missile to shoot down these UAVs — they’re slow, poorly maneuverable, and don’t have much (if any) defensive equipment. So you could put these missiles anywhere. 15 small radars and 15 missiles, all in separate locations, some concealed, some on mobile platforms. Link them together via satellite phones. Integrate them into your national IADS system with its more powerful radars. Shoot down the $1m drones, and provide warnings and locations of the cheap drones dropping hand grenades.

    Obviously it’s not that simple, but I definitely believe that a lightweight distributed radar and missile system needs to be part of a successful defense against drones. A bunch of radars and missiles with a 10-20 km range. Effective against helicopters and drones. Something small and cheap enough that you could put them on a pickup truck, but all 50 of them networked together and communicating with the more powerful systems.

  15. Cavid Yaqubəli on May 29, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    Thank you for this unbiased video. A war isn’t about who is right, it is about who is left.

  16. Skruff on May 29, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    I’d argue that anyone that is not capable of controlling airspace effectively enough to supress armored drones is not part of "modern" warfare.

  17. Murad Huseynov on May 29, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    Karabakh is not contested, it is an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. UN and International community all accept that Karabakh is a legitimate land of Azerbaijan, currently occupied by Armenia.

    Just like Russia invaded Ukraine, Armenia and their Russian puppet-masters invaded Azerbaijan in the 90s. Even now majority of Azeri Karabakh is occupied by Russian "peacekeepers"

  18. Real Talk on May 29, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    Let’s get some facts straight.
    1. Azerbaijan during its conflict with Armenia mainly liberated the lands _around_ Nagarno-Karabkh which Armenian forces also controlled and which extended all the way to the Iranian border. Azerbaijan took very little of N-K itself, only a few slices including the town of Susha (formerly an Azerbaijani populated city before the 1990s war). N-K proper continues to be populated by Armenians and Russian troops.

    2. Nagarno-Karabakh was and is majority ethnic Armenian populated but that statement doesn’t factor in the ethnic Azerbaijanis who were ethnically-cleansed or forced to flee during the 1990s war. Nor does it factor in the regions _around_ N-K which were mostly Azerbaijani populated until the 1990s when they were ethnically-cleansed or forced to flee. It’s those lands that Azerbaijan reclaimed during the 2020 war.

    Coverage of the 2020 conflict has been very poor in the media, because it completely misrepresents what the Azerbaijanis actually fought over, not N-K itself but mainly the lands around it. And these lands were majority Azeri populated before the 1990s when they were driven out.
    Additionally, the reason why the 2020 conflict broke out in the first place is because after PM Pashinyan came to power, he and his Defence Minister were repeatedly and openly talking about annexing more land, including from Turkey as well. Months before the Sep-Nov war, there had been clashes in the North of the country in July 2020, which were nowhere near N-K which is in the south. It was Armenian troops trying to take more territory in the north rather than Azerbaijan trying to liberate land.

  19. Po Wasjington on May 29, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    Turkey is smart for making these. They actually are able to minimize civilian deaths as well as increase the power and prestige of their nation. I mean war is bad but its worse not to defend yourself so hopefully Turkey will just do the right thing with these drones.

  20. profesercreeper on May 29, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    didn’t the m42 dusters use 40mm bofors guns not.50 cals?

  21. Shang Tsung on May 29, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    (12:34) Lasers could operate in multiple bands, and at a reasonable range are not so weather-dependent. The costs are not really inherent to the device, and are mostly a result of low production quantities.

  22. Bruce Li on May 29, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    I can see Taiwan arming itself with millions of swtichblade drones to defend against China. Also 100,000 Hypersonic missiles hidden deep inside Taiwan mountains. It’s likely Taiwan will reach parity with China once hypersonic tech becomes common place.

  23. bitflogger on May 29, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    In the Ukraine war, videos I have seen appear to show that cheap drones are being used to get coordinates for non-moving targets, then artillery is attacking. An accurate artillery piece can fire a cheap-dumb shell. A cheap done and a cheap shell will be very cost effective.

  24. Angelo Icaro on May 29, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Can C-RAM shoot down a low flying drone?

  25. Tommuli Haudankaivaja on May 29, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    For once, I’m on the side of Putin on something, that being Armenian situation.

  26. Robert Ledesma on May 29, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    "It’s over, Azerbaijan; I have the high ground."

  27. Speggn on May 29, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    Most sophisticated western IFVs like the German Puma have thermal vision wich easily detects drones against a cold sky background, very fast turret rotation, high gun elevation and special fragmentation ammunition for their autocannons.

    They can only be employed so easily against russian made armor because they lack any means to defend themselves against such threats.

  28. Burak Canikli on May 29, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    👍🏼

  29. Real Talk on May 29, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    Bayraktar _TB-2_ is the model name. Bayraktar is just the line that it’s part of. They’ve already made the Bayraktar _Akinci_ drone, and the Bayraktar _TB-3_ is in development.
    These are from Baykar Defense. There’s a dozen Turkish companies that make military grade surveillance or combat drones. TAI and STM being the other prominent ones.

  30. Anand Arokianathan on May 29, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    The sad part is that after this war everybody will be using drones including russia and china …..😥😥😥😥😥😥

  31. TheDeadLinger on May 29, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    How long until we have Fighter Drones doing sorties, just like in Ace Combat 7?

  32. Shang Tsung on May 29, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    (11:02) AFAIK, there are Russian air defense system, namely SA-22 Greyhond, that are able to handle drones very effectively. The modded version of that system is able to take down even the smaller drones very cost-effectively, with the addition of mini-rockets. So far, the space of near-range air defenses had been lagging behind with US military, as far as I know. Technologically, it would not require too much to expand the nomenclature of AA units for the US military, and really only one or two grades are most likely to be needed there.

  33. Paul D.B on May 29, 2022 at 7:44 pm

    Drone warfare is definitely the future. Tanks and jets can easily be converted to remote control too, and it’s honestly probably cheaper than manpower. And they’re really just scratching the surface. With low latency satellite links, entire squadrons of drones could be controlled from hundreds of miles away. There’s designs for drone kamikaze missles, which I like. The flight controllers can be made so cheaply, they can be considered expendable.. Cuts out the middle man of launching a smart munition.

  34. 바보Queen on May 29, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    the US is dumb, they over spend on EVERYTHING by millions.. look at ULA vs spacex?? ridiculous what these military companies charge the US gov knowing they’ll pay.. a shitty hand drone sold for 10k each.. wtf

  35. tripodalt on May 29, 2022 at 7:47 pm

    defending agaisnt drone with .50 heavy machine gun seem fail because lotering can be destroyed by ay rifle with enought accurate sight and drones that carry missiles or designate target to artillery fly at km high and can be only targeted with missile or accurate big guns but as you mentionned need at first to be detected
    tought defending against missile and shell both need super accuray and small arm rapid fire
    the recognition can also e made by satelite and its very dificult to hide even for stealth
    only the smalest high speed composit drones are very safe nowdays

  36. Carlos Esteban on May 29, 2022 at 7:47 pm

    What do you mean no weapons to counter them exist? What about Rheinmetall Skynex? The Mantis air defence guns are ideal for that I would assume. The programmable ammunition is pretty cool as well and far less expensive than missiles (obviously smaller range but it’s meant to be used in a layered air defence parameter with additional missiles).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb5_F4_Eod8&t=1s

  37. Bahadır Başer Kök on May 29, 2022 at 7:47 pm

    Amazing explaination but you forget one thing;
    In WW2 most reliable way to defend against heavy fighters and strategic bombers were interceptors, coming from there (altough currently not available) best way to defend against cheap bomber drones would be fast fully autonomous interceptor fighter drones which is actually one of the main research field on drone technology right now.
    Oh and Bayraktar is starting to mass produce a variant in couple months.

  38. Igitt! on May 29, 2022 at 7:47 pm

    this is very cynical

  39. nathan ruben on May 29, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    Turkey is using its ew system together. Turkiy attack the sensors with ew, distrupt comms, if possible protect drones with aircrafts in acceptasle vicinity if an aircraft pops up againts drones. Then drones do their jobs on battleground. If these supports are not available, they are mainly used to distrup logictics, attack logistic columns.

  40. 刀のイアの丂丂乇丂丂乇りムひリ on May 29, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    Azerbaijani here. I loved the bit in the end where you explained how, even though the drones helped immensely, it was the soldiers who brought the victory to us. I also appreciate your unbiased explanation of the conflict in general, which is something that’s usually very unlikely of a foreigner. Thanks a lot!

  41. Samson Vermont on May 29, 2022 at 7:49 pm

    From a cost-benefit standpoint, drones have rendered tanks obsolete. For the cost of one Abrams tank (about $6.2M), the US could buy perhaps a thousand Switchblade 600s, which could destroy perhaps one hundred times more tanks than one Abrams could — assuming a well-manned Abrams would enjoy an average kill ratio of 10-to-1 in a full scale war. Meanwhile, the Switchblades pose less risk to personnel and are dramatically easier to transport. One thousand Switchblades would also provide far far more battlefield intelligence than a single Abrams could. The Switchblade 600 costs more than the Switchblade 300 (currently $6K) but if the US ordered tens of thousands of 600s the price per unit would come down substantially, perhaps close to the 300’s price of $6k. Commentators in the past may have prematurely pronounced the tank obsolete, but that doesn’t mean it will never obsolesce. Everything becomes obsolete eventually. And when a thing captures the imagination the way the tank does or the way the battleship did, there will be people who deny its obsolescence for quite some time after it has already happened.

  42. John Jacob JinglehimerSchmidt on May 29, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Armed drones … The new modern warfare?

    How do drones disrupt warfare. Seems to me that this is the way of the world.

  43. Alxar on May 29, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    THEN WHY DIDNT ANYONE DO THAT? Have ypu ever checked how many ecu s war THEN WHY DIDNT ANYONE DO THAT? Have ever checked how many ecu s war computers flughts computers have tb2? Just look to baykar tech page and tell me its so freakin easy to do that then WHY NOONE DID IT HA?! You are just being racist nothing else. West tech is superior to cheap turkish drones. US KEPT SELLING THESE THEIR DRONES WITH ENORMOUS PRICES DELIBARETLY BCUZ NO ONE WAS PRODUCING. BUT NOW US COULD EASLY PRODUCE BAYRAKTAR AND MAKE PROFIT BUTTT YOU KNOW US DONT WANT IT. AHAHAHAH YOUR ARE JUST SILLYcomputers flughts computers have tb2? Just look to baykar tech page and tell me its so freakin easy to do that then WHY NOONE DID IT HA?! You are just being racist nothing else. West tech is superior to cheap turkish drones. US KEPT SELLING THESE THEIR DRONES WITH ENORMOUS PRICES DELIBARETLY BCUZ NO ONE WAS PRODUCING. BUT NOW US COULD EASLY PRODUCE BAYRAKTAR AND MAKE PROFIT BUTTT YOU KNOW US DONT WANT IT. AHAHAHAH YOUR ARE JUST SILLY

  44. Luwfu on May 29, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    Need to ban drones for war, unless war completely replaced with it, but then might as well do war in video games

  45. Shang Tsung on May 29, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    (13:08) And this brings us back to the concept of how useful an artillery (basically, a high-caliber machine gun) in AA is. Further consideration brings us towards the combined missile + artillery system, which had been realized in the SA-22 Greyhound. I would not be surprised if an additional laser channel would become available in such systems, for particularly small drones.

  46. sarioglanli38 on May 29, 2022 at 7:52 pm

    i am not to sure why you dont called pkk as a terrorist organisation remember pkk is recognised as a terrorist group by un , usa an eu

  47. jin choung on May 29, 2022 at 7:52 pm

    do you not know a single armenian who could have informed you you’re pronouncing armenia and armenian wrong?

  48. H.E. Hazelhorst on May 29, 2022 at 7:53 pm

    Very interesting!

  49. Shang Tsung on May 29, 2022 at 7:53 pm

    (13:08) And this brings us back to the concept of how useful an artillery (basically, a high-caliber machine gun) in AA is. Further consideration brings us towards the combined missile + artillery system, which had been realized in the SA-22 Greyhound. I would not be surprised if an additional laser channel would become available in such systems, for particularly small drones. Also, the radars and the signal processing on the SA-22 are good enough for all drones, even small copters. Ultimately, those are non-issues for any nation with high-tech competencies.

    I think, in the future we’ll be seeing an addition of smaller-caliber machine gun (say, 7.62mm) AA turrets, possibly with a laser channel. They would be supplementing systems like SA-22. Thus, there is going to be a 3- or 4-tier AA defense system, with systems like SA-10, SA-21, and MIM-104 being at the top tier, and systems like SA-22 being one tier above the floor tier.

  50. Joe on May 29, 2022 at 7:54 pm

    This is a good turn of events. An all out (non nuclear) war would end with everyone’s expensive toys being blown up

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