The Islamic State is now conducting drone warfare with home-brew drones and commercial models

Even as it loses ground in Mosul, the Islamic State (IS) gets ever more creative. Latest reports suggest that IS has started employing drones for gathering intelligence as well as dropping explosives like grenades and small warheads on troops and equipment.

Speaking to defense news website Defense One, US officials state that they’re seeing IS drones at the rate of at least one a day these past few months. Not only is IS relying on off-the-shelf consumer drones, it’s also building larger drones in its “drone factories”. The US has, in fact, made it a point to target and destroy these factories when possible.

Iraqi troops are also quite used to seeing the drones now, apparently; they shoot them down with their assault rifles and have been quite successful so far.

Most of the drones appear to be small quadcopters with a relatively low payload. A usual explosive might be a hand-grenade or rifle grenades. At least one drone has been spotted carrying the explosive warhead from a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) unit as well. The damage from these units is small, but an RPG warhead is capable of destroying a tank from the top. The grenades can also cause extensive damage to equipment.

Defense One reports that the drones haven’t been very successful so far. Their short range and weight limits their deadliness and they are quite easy to shoot down. Larger drones, used for surveillance, might indeed pose a greater threat because of the information they can relay.

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U.S. Military officials are not happy with the idea of shooting down drones, however. Firing bullets into the air isn’t ideal under any circumstances. That said, drone jammers and other such equipment aren’t always at hand, especially with the Iraqi troops.