Saudi Oil Attacks Reveal Danger of Drones

Last weekend's attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities was carried out using drones, according to experts. One security think tank said 10 drones were deployed in the attack, which temporarily knocked over half of Saudi oil production offline and jarred world petroleum markets.

The United States and others have blamed Iran for the attack, though Iranian leadership has denied responsibility. Regardless of who is responsible, the attack highlights the growing threat of drones as weapons. "(Drones) are a very, very serious and dangerous instrument that's right on the horizon," says Dr. Jeffrey Addicott, director of the Warrior Defense Project at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. "It's the poor man's weapon...there are ways to put explosive devices on these things, and they can be brought up very quickly near the target and launched before law enforcement can react."

Dr. Addicott tells KTRH that, as drones have become more common in use, they have also become more common as weapons. "(Drone attacks) have occurred in other parts of the world," he says. "We've seen ISIS use them in combat activities against enemies, and we've seen it of course with the Saudi Arabian oilfields incident, so it's a new reality."

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in charge of regulating drone activity, but the FBI has warned about the threat of drones as weapons, even thwarting one such attack last year. Dr. Addicott says because drones are relatively small, cheap, unsophisticated devices, they are difficult to defend against. "The best way to prevent these things is to stop the person, not try to stop the drone," he says. "Because you really can't stop the drone once it is launched."

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