The United States military has confirmed what previously was only hinted at: the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS, is producing its own drones—and they are weaponized. A “rocket and unmanned aerial vehicle factory” was among the many targets hit by the coalition near Mosul, Iraq this week. Just last week, The Weekly Standard reported that CENTCOM had targeted an “unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV] facility,” also near Mosul. CENTCOM told TWS that the facility was used to “launch, recover, and restore” drones, but would not say whether or not ISIS was actually building their own UAVs. This week’s revelation appears to be the first direct confirmation that ISIS is in the drone-building business since CENTCOM first began noting ISIS’s use of drones in 2015. Asked about the factory, a CENTCOM official responded that it was being used for rocket, UAV and IED [improvised explosive device] production. “The Coalition has seen several types of unmanned aerial vehicles being used as weapons delivery systems or for surveillance,” the official replied. “ISIL was outfitting commercial drones to use against Coalition forces. The Coalition takes this threat seriously and has implemented increased force protection measures and improved UAS counter-measures to protect Coalition forces and our partners on the ground.”
An unsettling development..