Journal of Strategic Studies
Drones are considered poor coercion tools: They cannot operate in contested airspace and they offer low-cost fights instead of more credible, costly signals. However, this article finds that technological advances will soon enable drones to function in hostile environments. Moreover, drones offer three unique coercion advantages that theorists did not foresee: sustainability in long duration conflicts, certainty of precision punishment which can change the psychology of adversaries, and changes in the relative costs of war. A unique survey of 259 foreign military officers finds that costly signals are less credible than assumed and that drones demonstrate resolve in new ways. Read more.