10/15/2017 / By Jayson Veley
The advancement of technology is truly bittersweet. One the one hand, technology has made our lives incredibly convenient and simple, but on the other hand, it has led to the emergence of more privacy concerns and security threats that didn’t exist just decades ago.
Currently, law enforcement is having a difficult time keeping up with the rapid advancement of technology, and more specifically, the development of drones, which today have the ability to do everything from capturing video footage to carrying customized weapons. As former Secret Service agent and author Dan Bongino put it, the Secret Service is mainly equipped and trained to stop attacks that happen on the ground, meaning that airborne threats, such as threats posed by a weaponized drone for instance, create “additional security complications.” Many Pentagon officials have issued similar warnings, arguing that the current drone-fighting technologies are “still immature” and require “further development.”
In response to this growing security threat, the Pentagon has launched a $700 million program to combat weaponized drones deployed by the Islamic State. Indeed, ISIS has increased the number of drones they use on the battlefield in recent months, so a proper response from the Pentagon is essential to ensure the safety of our military personnel and the American people. (Related: Spy drones can be hijacked by terrorists and used as weapons.)
Last month, tests were carried out at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico by firms such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, the latter of which tested an incredible new laser weapon system called “Athena” that is capable of taking down an enemy drone with a single blow. Additionally, Athena can be mounted on top of tanks and other ground-based military vehicles, and may one day be installed on military planes, helicopters and ships as well.
“The tests at White Sands against aerial targets validated our lethality models and replicated the results we’ve seen against static targets at our own test range,” explained Lockheed Martin’s Chief Technology Officer Keoki Jackson. “As we mature the technology behind laser weapon systems, we’re making the entire system more effective and moving closer to a laser weapon that will provide greater protection to our warfighters by taking on more sophisticated threats from a lower range.”
But while drones do pose a significant threat to national security both domestically and overseas, that doesn’t mean that the United States can’t fight fire with fire and use weaponized drones against our own enemies. In fact, many lawmakers in the state of Connecticut see the use of lethal force from above as the future of law enforcement.
Earlier this year, House Bill 7260 made its way through the halls of Connecticut’s congress building, which would have allowed police officers to use weaponized drones in order to hunt down dangerous criminals and enforce the law out on the streets. “We have to be able to fight fire with fire,” explained state Senator John Kissel at the time, a Republican co-chair of the Judiciary Committee. “The use of weaponized drones isn’t going to go away because we don’t like it, so we have to do something now.” Unfortunately, House Bill 7260 did not get passed Congress and become law in the state of Connecticut, but still, it is a good indicator that weaponized drones in law enforcement may very well one day become reality.
Perhaps there is another major benefit to technology other than the obvious fact that it makes our day-to-day lives more convenient: It forces our country to continue thinking of new ideas and new ways of doing things, thus propelling our society as a whole forward into the future.