Skip to main content

Someone used a $3 million Patriot missile to destroy a store-bought quadcopter

patriot missile destroys quadcopter
Cops in Japan use flying nets to bring down rogue quadcopters flying in no-go zones, while other methods seen around the world include signal-jamming devices and even highly trained eagles.

But a “very close ally” of the United States has found a much more dramatic way of taking out remotely controlled copters that it considers a threat — by using a $3 million Patriot missile.

The revelation that a surface-to-air missile traveling at five times the speed of sound had destroyed a consumer quadcopter buzzing along at about 50 mph came this week during a presentation given by General David Perkins of the U.S. Army at a military symposium in Alabama.

“We have a very close ally … that was dealing with an adversary that was using a small quadcopter and they shot it down with a Patriot missile,” Perkins told the audience, adding, “Now, that worked, they got it.”

In case anyone at the event was in any doubt about the effectiveness of using a multimillion-dollar missile on a small contraption made mostly of plastic, Perkins confirmed that the “quadcopter that cost $200 bucks from did not stand a chance against the Patriot.”

Perkins declined to name the nation that deemed it a good idea to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but it’s well known that the issue of store-bought quadcopters — machines like DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro — being weaponized is a growing problem in some battle zones, with Islamic State group currently using them in Iraq, for example.

The general did acknowledge that while the Patriot had successfully seen off the drone, using a high-tech missile for such a purpose was actually a monumental waste of money.

“I’m not sure that’s a good economic exchange ratio,” Perkins told the audience, adding, “In fact, if I’m the enemy, I’m thinking, ‘Hey, I’m just gonna get on eBay and buy as many of these $300 quadcopters as I can and expend all the Patriot missiles out there.”

Justin Bronk, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, told the BBC that Perkins’ comment “exposes in very stark terms the challenge which militaries face in attempting to deal with the adaptation of cheap and readily available civilian technology with extremely expensive, high-end hardware designed for state-on-state warfare.”

The researcher added that although highly sophisticated, Patriot radar systems might actually struggle to properly target a small quadcopter.

Clearly, the country that fired the Patriot at the drone would do well to take another look at the kind of weapons it uses to deal with such challenges, or simply examine the effectiveness of existing solutions for tackling unmanned, weapon-carrying copters.

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more