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Extra resources for Analyzing the Drone Debates: Targeted Killing, Remote Warfare, and Military Technology
Again, the data do not provide a definitive metric to determine the accuracy or effectiveness of drone warfare. Individual accounts support the notion of civilian casualties and targeting errors. S. S. S. S. 132 Nearly all sources agree that civilian death tolls are declining in recent years; since 2009, drone strikes have become more accurate and resulted in relatively low to moderate civilian casualties. S. S. 134 If ordinary people die from attacks inside countries not in combat, the trade-off between military necessity and protection of civilians becomes all the more palpable as drones afford few excuses for collateral damage.
S. personnel, even eliminating the danger altogether. 78 Nevertheless, questions over the accuracy of drone strikes remain and technical challenges are still present. 79 Some challenges are surely due to the hardware, as faulty mechanical or electronic engineering may cause system failure as described earlier regarding costs. a. 83 Accuracy and precision may also suffer based on the “software”: pilot skill, motivation, attention span, or data analysis capability. Human fallibility ensures that no complex system will operate without error.
11 The price tag from an unmanned system comes in far cheaper than a fighter plane with an ace pilot who will be paid a pension and health care well into the future. Whereas Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon or F-35 Joint Strike fighter planes cost around $150 million, a Predator can be purchased for around $5 million and a Reaper for $28 million. 16 The march toward efficiency and automation may know no limits. 19 Owing to their greater commercial application, drones may prove to be a worthy investment as a public good like other military-initiated technologies from GPS to the internet, while further refinement might see them become solar or nuclear-powered and thus even more fuel efficient.