Kargu-2 drones under production at STM, Ankara, Turkey
The world’s first recorded case of an autonomous drone attacking humans took place in March 2020, according to a United Nations (UN) security report detailing the ongoing Second Libyan Civil War. Libyan forces used the Turkish-made drones to “hunt down” and jam retreating enemy forces, preventing them from using their own drones.
The field report…describes how the Haftar Affiliated Forces (HAF), loyal to Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, came under attack by drones from the rival Government of National Accord (GNA) forces. After a successful drive against HAF forces, the GNA launched drone attacks to press its advantage. From the report:
Logistics convoys and retreating HAF were subsequently hunted down and remotely engaged by the unmanned combat aerial vehicles or the lethal autonomous weapons systems such as the STM Kargu-2 (above) and other loitering munitions. The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true “fire, forget and find” capability.
Drone experts have been dreading this moment while advocating for a ban on autonomous attack drones.
Once there is a ban on autonomous attack drones – after much breast beating and pledges of honesty – their use will continue. Of course.
This is, after all, a software question. The capacity for these drones to self-destruct after such a mission is often built-in. Once the command has been entered to hunt down and kill humans relying on the AI of the drone for decision-making, an additional command will be programmed-in instructing the drone to destroy itself afterwards. Starting with wiping the software.