Drones have unequivocally changed the character of warfare in strategy, action, and perception. The era of armed drone use has arrived, and the rapid proliferation of drone technology among states and militant groups alike poses a new threat to the international community.
Who has drones? How are they getting them? This site seeks to answer those questions, using an analysis of hundreds of news reports and government documents to track which countries possess armed drones and how they acquired them.
More than ten countries have used armed drones in combat: the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. But many other countries, including Saudi Arabia, India, and China, among others, maintain armed drones in their arsenals.
In New America’s World of Drones database, countries are sorted into three groups: those that use drones in combat, those that possess armed drones but have not used them in combat, and those that are developing armed drones. A country’s drone capabilities are classified according to the U.S. Air Force tier system. Tier I includes low altitude, low endurance drones like the Orbiter; Tier II is comprised of medium altitude, long endurance drones like the Reaper or the Predator; and Tier II+ applies to high altitude, long endurance drones like the Global Hawk. Mini and micro drones are not classified in the tier system.