Will Drones Make Tanks Obsolete? Many people firmly believe that tanks are now obsolete because of drones and other flying autonomous vehicles.
While drones do pose a major threat to tanks in the modern battlefield, this threat already existed. Way back in the Cold War in the form of ground attack aircraft armed with ATGMs.
Drone or not, it is still the same enemy combatant from a theoretical standpoint.
An aircraft shooting missiles to destroy ground targets.
Drones may be harder to detect but they still use the same air-to-ground missiles used by manned aircraft decades ago.
Such missiles already face countermeasures. Through Active Protection Systems, air-defense systems and laser weapons systems.
Hard-kill APS have long been capable of taking out aircraft launched missiles (Arena APS). But concerns of harming infantry and nearby vehicles caused militaries around the world to avoid adopting such systems.
Self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles also now have high precision HE-frag ammunition that could destroy supersonic missiles and even artillery shells.
Laser-based anti-drone and missile systems also already exist (Rheimetall HEL & Lockheed ATHENA).
Which can shoot down swarms of missiles, rockets and artillery in less than a minute. And could be mounted on dedicated vehicles that could accompany tanks in the battlefield.
The only reason why tanks today are vulnerable to drone attacks is because militaries:
Still don’t see much of a need to counter them!
Only a few nations operate drones, and these are mostly NATO Allies.
Air superiority will also not be a concern since NATO would be able to dominate against any threat. Even if the enemy were to spam drones in the millions.
In conclusion, Russia is also currently developing a man-portable long range anti-tank & anti-drone missile system. Moreover, other nations will likely follow suit as drones are indeed becoming more increasingly common.
Lastly, with this, drones will likely just be “reusable missiles”. Which will remain to be a threat. But will never put an end to the usefulness of tanks in the battlefield.