Small drones fly military missions in Ukraine

Video released last week showed bombs being dropped on Russian soldiers. The aircraft used to carry the bombs, according to Ukrainian officials, was a small commercial drone aircraft.

Dr. Jonathan Askonnas, an associate professor with the Catholic University of America, wrote about the emergence of this new tactic about five years ago.

"This is a really revolutionary moment in military history, and it's going to change so many things we can't even anticipate," said Askonnas.

Military analyst Jody Ferguson has also been monitoring the military use of drones.

"Is it a game changer? I would argue it's part of the evolution of warfare," said Ferguson.

The War in Iraq and Afghanistan is where the use of store-bought drones first got media attention. Platforms like the DJI Phantom were modified to carry explosive devices like grenades.

"It's part of this process of military adaptation. You know, soldiers use whatever, whatever gets the job done. So it's not uncommon to see commercial technologies used this way," said Askonnas.

The small aircraft, recently, has been embraced by terror groups.

"Any lone wolf actor can acquire the most simple of drones or the most simple of a communications devices," said Ferguson.

Ukrainian forces have typically used military drones made in Turkey. That type of aircraft, reportedly, was used in a recent strike on two Russian patrol boats. 

The large and small drones seem to have had the most impact on Russian ground forces.

"I don't think there is any secret that their military has proven to be a giant with a field with feet of clay," said Ferguson.

A reboot of conventional warfare is something Ferguson is expecting, but he believes the drones will limit mass maneuvers. Askonnas is surprised the Russians failed to react faster to the drone strategy. 

"The Russians weren't really training or preparing or paying attention to major changes in military operations that were going on around the world and which were visible if you were paying attention," said Askonnas.

U.S. troops started developing drone countermeasures about 10 years ago.

"What the United States has been good about doing, our militaries, we've been bringing in civilian experts, we've been bringing in Silicon Valley, we've been bringing in smaller companies that didn't exist 10, 20 years ago. I don't think the Russians have that type of ability to act nimbly and bring in companies like that," said Ferguson.

State authorities don't like to talk about security tactics, that includes drone mitigation. But sources tell FOX 7, several law enforcement agencies in Texas, like the Austin Police Department, currently have procedures on how to address drone attacks. 

Enforcement was also limited when a federal judge struck down the Texas Privacy Law which restricted where drones could fly, last month.

Commercial drones do have drawbacks in a military fight. The electronics can be jammed and the aircraft can be shot down by a standard rifle. Those made in China by DJI also pose another problem.

"China is not on the Ukraine side of this conflict. These drones are streaming back data to China, which China has started, some sources say started providing to Russia. So they record location data, not just on where the drone is, also when the drone operator is. But there's other some battlefield reports that the Russians have, again, successfully targeting drone operators who are operating their drones near Russian formations," said Askonnas.