Autonomous ‘killer’ drones deployed in Libya for the first time

Military drones may have attacked humans autonomously for the first time last year, according to a UN report. Details about the incident have not yet been released and it is not yet known if there have been any casualties. Nevertheless, it is becoming urgent for some experts to regulate these deadly autonomous weapons.

According to a report by the UN group of experts on Libya dated March 8, Kargu-2 armed drones were deployed for the first time in Libya in March 2020 during a conflict between the National Government Armies (NGA) against the forces of Marshal Khalifa Haftar. , a rebel military leader at the head of the Libyan National Army.

Autonomous Attacks

Drones are widely used today to take pictures, shoot videos or deliver parcels. The Turkish-made Kargu-2 model (STM company) has been used for anti-terrorist operations for several years.

During these attacks, these machines would be programmed according to a very precise mode that makes it possible to attack targets “without the need for a connection between the operator and the ammunition”specifies the report submitted to the UN Security Council, marking the arrival of the era of deadly drones that no longer require humans to pull the trigger.

«We knew the technology existed, but we wondered who would be the first to use it on the battlefield.notes David Dunn, specialist in military use of drones at the University of Birmingham, interviewed by France 24.

drone drone
According to the manufacturer, the Kargu-2 drone of the Turkish company STM can fly up to 2,800 meters for 30 minutes. Source: Screenshot from YouTube video

Even if the Kargu-2 is a priori capable of stealing and killing without the slightest human intervention, nothing says they actually took action in the report. Some newspapers, such as the New York Postpoint out that one of these drones, however, would have tracked down a human target before it was shot down.

The incident has cause to alarm experts, as it could be the first-ever unmanned drone attack on a human, notes Zak Kelleborn, a consultant specialist in unmanned systems. Asked by NewScientist, he wonders. “How effective is this targeting system? How often does he miss the target?

For Jack Watling, a military operations researcher at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), this incident shows:They are urgent and important» need for debates on the regulation of autonomous weapons.