Proliferation of armed drones in the Middle East

This project contributes to the existing knowledge base on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) proliferation and its broader implications by focusing specifically on the Middle East.

Uber Bilder / Alamy Stock Photo

Drones are increasingly ubiquitous in counterinsurgency and low-intensity conflicts, especially in the Middle East. Their ability to gather covert intelligence and deliver strikes against hard targets relatively cheaply and with impressive endurance, allowing them to remain on station providing continuous support for many hours at a time, has made them the weapon of choice for many militaries.

In the Middle East, a growing number of actors (both state and non-state) have rapidly moved from the development and acquisition of armed drones to regular employment of these weapons for lethal effects.

Uber Bilder / Alamy Stock Photo

Aims and objectives

The goal of this study is twofold: it first aims to provide an in-depth inventory of armed drones possessed by Middle Eastern states, either produced domestically or imported, assessing quantity, types and timeframes; and second, it aims to explore where and how armed drones have been used so far, both by countries that produce their own and those that import them, to assess whether and how their practices and ethical considerations around airpower and airstrikes are affected. 

The end goal is to contribute to the existing knowledge on UAV proliferation and its broader implications.

Project outputs

Access the database site and key publications produced as part of this project.

Database: Armed Drones in the Middle East

This database site provides to provide an understanding of the proliferation and use of armed UAV technology in the Middle East.

Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region

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