Someone used a $3 million Patriot missile to destroy a store-bought quadcopter

Enlarge Image German soldiers deploying the Patriot missile system in 2012.                  Sean Gallup  Getty Images

A U.S. ally used a $3 million Patriot missile to shoot down a $200 drone purchased from Amazon.com, an American general has revealed, questioning the economic consequences of the operation.

The missile wasn't fired by the United States, but by someone Perkins described as an ally "dealing with an adversary", suggesting it wasn't a test. The United States is planning to sell US$6.4 billion in arms, including Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, mine hunter ships and information technology, to Taiwan, a move that will infuriate China and test whether President Barack Obama's efforts to improve trust with Beijing will carry the countries through a tense time.

"On the kinetic exchange ratio, the Patriot won", Perkins told an audience at a military symposium, adding. On the contrary, this is a story about the military shooting down a drone with a $3 million Patriot Missile System. The problem, he said, wasn't effectiveness: the tiny drone didn't stand a chance - the issue is economics. The AN/MPQ-53 at the heart of the system is known as the "Phased array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target", or PATRIOT.

Perkins questioned the economics of taking down a small drone with a weapon costing millions of dollars.

Drones have proliferated in recent years, and ISIS fighters have put them to use in their fight with Iraqi forces in Mosul, where they've used them to drop grenades on government forces and track and record suicide attacks.

Patriots are radar-targeted weapons more commonly used to shoot down enemy aircraft and ballistic missiles.

He didn't name the "very close ally" or where the incident took place.

Perkins pointed out the obvious - that deploying large surface-to-air missiles as a defence was not good bang for your buck.

Because of that, Perkins said, drones are a commander's problem - because there are a lot of cheaper ways to shoot down a drone than with a giant anti-aircraft missile.

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