A French politician today announced that the country’s Reaper surveillance drones — formerly used for intelligence gathering — would soon be outfitted with weaponry.
Florence Parly, French Minister for the Armed Forces, said the drones in question are twelve Reaper drones deployed or soon-to-be deployed in the Sahel region of Africa. According to Reuters, the drones will be outfitted with air-to-surface Hellfire missiles.
Parly was quick to say the drones would not become killbots, but would be restricted to international laws of engagement — and I’m not 100-percent sure those are mutually exclusive.
According to Parly, this is a necessary evolution of French warfare:
Beyond our borders, the enemy is more furtive, more mobile, disappears into the vast Sahel desert and dissimulates himself amidst the civilian population. Facing this, we cannot remain static. Our methods and equipment must adapt. It is with this in mind that I have decided to launch the process to arm our intelligence and surveillance drones.
Remote-controlled drones with missiles are one thing, but the minute an autonomous drone has them is the minute I get scared. Don’t worry about when the latter are coming, either — NATO reports they’re already here.