From Aviation Week & Space Technology
Mar 6, 2017 David Hambling
The conflicts in Iraq and Syria have seen the rise of a new form of unmanned warfare, the large-scale use of weaponized consumer drones. Islamic State group militants have also built a significant micro-UAV capability, and continue to grow that by leveraging commercial technology.
This is not the first use of drones by nonstate actors. Hezbollah has been flying UAVs since 2004, some carrying explosives. However, while Hezbollah claims its Mirsad drones are built locally, they appear to be modified or export versions of the Iranian Mohajer surveillance drone. The Mirsad has a piston engine, a 10-ft. wingspan and has been an easy target for air defense systems.
In contrast, the Islamic State drone effort has been fed by cheap, capable consumer drones, available since the release of the DJI Phantom in 2013. This quadcopter flew around 20 mph for 20 min., sending back high-resolution video from a mile away, for less than $2,000.