US Patriot Missile Launch

A Patriot missile was used to shoot down a small quadcopter drone, it's been revealed.

US General David Perkins told a military symposium that a "very close ally" used the weapon, usually priced at about $3 million (£2.5m), to destroy its target, according to the BBC.

The radar-targeted missiles are commonly used to shoot down enemy aircraft and ballistic missiles. General Perkins said:

"That quadcopter that cost 200 bucks from Amazon.com did not stand a chance against a Patriot."

"Now, that worked, they got it, OK, and we love Patriot missiles."

It comes after reports that extremist groups have been attaching weapons to small, commercial drones. 

Quadcopter Drone
A quadcopter drone. Picture: Arnold Reinhold

Gen Perkins admitted, however, that deploying large surface-to-air missiles as a defence was probably not economically prudent. He continued:

"I'm not sure that's a good economic exchange ratio. In fact, if I'm the enemy, I'm thinking, 'Hey, I'm just gonna get on eBay and buy as many of these $300 quadcopters as I can and expend all the Patriot missiles out there'."

Royal United Services Institute researcher Justin Bronk, meanwhile, said:

"It is clearly enormous overkill. It certainly exposes in very stark terms the challenge which militaries face in attempting to deal with the adaptation of cheap and readily available civilian technology with extremely expensive, high-end hardware designed for state-on-state warfare." 

Patriot missiles travel at five times the speed of sound, while quadcopter drones usually have top speeds of 50mph. 

First produced in 1980, they're operated by 12 countries including the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Topics: