Turkey and Iran’s drone use reshaping warfare - report

Turkey and Iran have altered modern warfare through their use of drone technology, the New York Times said on Thursday.

“Turkey has become one of the world’s most prolific drone users, relying heavily on drone systems to project prestige and power,” the newspaper said.

This includes in Syria, where Turkish drones have been used with devastating success against Assad regime forces, as well as northern Iraq, where the technology has been credited with putting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on the defensive in its mountainous strongholds.  

In Libya, drones have proved crucial to Ankara’s support for the U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), outperforming similar Chinese technology provided to the rival Libyan National Army (LNA), the New York Times said. 

Turkish drones were similarly decisive in fighting between the Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in September, when Ankara threw its support behind the Azeri government, the newspaper said. “Drones have played a pivotal role in (President) Erdoğan’s ambitious plans to project Turkish power across the region and support key allies.”

Iran has also sought to develop the technology, providing it to regional allies and making it “almost impossible to tell who conducted a lethal drone strike, and thus who should be held responsible and accountable”, the New York Times said.

And the newspaper warned that the proliferation of the technology was likely to have a dangerous impact on how warfare was conducted in the future.

 “As drones shift the scope and rules of the modern battlefield, drone misuse will become increasingly likely, either through more attacks without a clear perpetrator, or by middle powers emboldened to project themselves into bigger conflicts,” it said.