Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

The Coming Future of Autonomous Drones

by Micah Zenko Tuesday, September 4, 2012
An undated U.S. Air Force handout photo of a RQ-4 Global Hawk (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). An undated U.S. Air Force handout photo of a RQ-4 Global Hawk (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

The inherent advantages of U.S. Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drones—like the Predator, Reaper, and Global Hawk—for spying on potential adversaries and attacking suspected militants has made them the default counterterrorism tools for the Obama administration. Unlike manned aircraft, or special operations raids, MALE drones can hover directly over hostile territory for between fourteen and forty hours (depending on their weapons and sensor payloads) without placing pilots or ground troops at risk of injury, capture, or death. Read more »