Drone Wars (2021) : Throughline Unseen, they stalk their targets from thousands of feet in the air. Operators are piloting them from military bases halfway across the world. At any moment, they could launch a strike that comes without warning. The attack drone was supposed to be a symbol of the era of precision warfare — a way to wage wars with fewer casualties on both sides. It's a technology that's been honed since it was first dreamed up during World War 1. But are drones actually precise enough? Do drones desensitize us to the casualties of civilians caught between us and our enemies? In this episode, we will explore the past, present and future of drone warfare.

Drone Wars (2021)

Drone Wars (2021)

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Illustration by Hokyoung Kim
Hokyoung Kim

This episode is the third part in a series about Afghanistan, focused on the country and its people. It was first released at the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The series won a Peabody Award in June 2022.

Listen to Throughline on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our reporting.

Unseen, they stalk their targets from thousands of feet in the air. Operators are piloting them from military bases halfway across the world. At any moment, they could launch a strike that comes without warning. The attack drone was supposed to be a symbol of the era of precision warfare — a way to wage wars with fewer casualties on both sides. It's a technology that's been honed since it was first dreamed up during World War 1. But are drones actually precise enough? Do drones desensitize us to the casualties of civilians caught between us and our enemies? In this episode, we will explore the past, present and future of drone warfare.


Learn more about the topic:

Warfare, a podcast by History Hit

Kill Chain: Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins, Andrew Cockburn

Drone Warfare: Concepts and Controversies, Caroline Kennedy-Pipe and James Rogers