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To counter the threats posed by small drones, the U.S. military may have to rapidly step up its R&D timeframes, according to a new report commissioned by the U.S. Army.

Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs) have become increasingly affordable and sophisticated. With millions of these drones now available worldwide, “It’s become very easy for an adversary to use them in nefarious ways,” says Albert Sciarretta, chair of the committee behind the new study and president of CNS Technologies in Springfield, Virginia.

The U.S. Army asked for a detailed report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that analyzes potential risks from these devices, especially to dismounted infantry (that is, foot soldiers) and lightly armored vehicles. For example, hobby drones could be fitted with lethal weapons such as explosive, chemical, biological, or radiological payloads—or modified to jam military radio signals, Sciarretta says.

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Category: Science