The aircraft used by the PKK in the November 2018 attack were easy to acquire; you can even buy them online from Amazon. The Skywalker X8 drone, which has a range of up to 100 km, costs under $300 and can be preprogrammed to fly a route via GPS. The Talon X-UAV is smaller and cheaper, and the attackers apparently rigged it to also fly a preprogrammed route.

The PKK, in fact, is late in adopting drones for combat. Islamic State began carrying out attacks with modified commercial drones in 2016, and according to a tally by Bellingcat, carried out more than 200 drone attacks in 2017 alone. Grenades with improvised fins attached to stabilize their fall were dropped by the commercially available drones, in operations that were sometimes recorded for slick propaganda videos.

It might seem strange that a group who regularly uses suicide bombers would want to publicize its reliance on killing from afar. But it shows how the most basic human instinct,  self-preservation, continues to influence warfare. Armed drones appear to eliminate a key deterrent to combat: the chance that your own people could be harmed.

The U.S. pioneered the technology and showed the world how it could be used. Others have watched and learned. Turkey won’t be the last country to manufacture its own drones, and its public will not be the last to see them as a source of pride.

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