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A snowboarder created by 1,218 small drones during the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics on February 9, 2018.

As the Olympics in Korea move to closure this week, adulation and reflection of remarkable performances of the human will to achieve. Not lost amongst the new heroes and heroines of theses Olympic Games was one of the most memorable displays of the sophisticated and complex technologies that surround us, the opening ceremony of the Olympics put forward a light show comprised of small drones. Forming a snowboarder, before morphing into the symbol of the Olympics — five interlacing rings. The showing was a record-breaking drone display, with 1,218 drones programmed in unison.

The quadcopter drones, each one a plastic and foam body weighing a mere 11.64 ounces, have a flight time of 20 minutes.

The development and deployment of more sophisticated and accurate aerial drones for the purpose of better visualizing the threats in today’s world is a step towards greater global safety.

The drones’ unnoticeable size and camera technologies could be used to surveil targets and areas closer to the ground, relaying that information to a remote command center to better prepare assets for operations and confrontations. This type of surveillance capability, coupled with weaponization, make these drones highly valuable to any and all armed forces as Russia has demonstrated in Ukraine since 2014. Looking at devious and near peer applications beyond surveillance and firing solutions, the drones could be fitted with grenades, which would detonate on impact when dropped from sufficient heights. The small size of the drones and the massive swarms means that they could be used to conspicuously fly near key targets — airports, individuals, critical infrastructure points, etc. The mass swarms of drones acting as a flock can be used to purposefully obstruct the engines of commercial aircraft, bringing them down much in the same way that birds stuck in a jet engine do. At the end of the day, drones are currently on the right side of the cost curve, which our near peers and opponents will clearly invest in and take advantage of.

Given this massive potential for destruction and debilitation, a mere sampling of the countless ways in which drone power can be abused, are all too costly to be ignored; drone development, anti-drone development, and cybersecurity for left of launch of these drones must be heavily invested in, tested, and applied to the lethality of our military in full integration across all dominions, all services, and with our allies. Drone defense, just like ballistic missile and air defense, is not a linear battle anymore. They all have to test, exercise, and operate together to deter, to defend, and to protect our investments and our way of life.

The Olympic light show was reflective of the unity and the shared awe of human capacity, that is fundamental to the Olympics. We hope that the Olympics held on a divided peninsula inspired all people to strive to make the world a better and safer place, by capturing their hearts and minds.

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Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.

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