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Should infantry be equipped with 12 gauge to shoot down FPV drones?.

Recently, the Chief of Staff of the French Army, General Pierre Schill, stated that the widespread use of commercial FPV drones equipped with military charges, as seen in Ukraine, would not last. "It's a snapshot in time. [...] Today, the sword - that is, these aerial drones - is powerful, more powerful than the shield. But the shield will improve," these words spoken by the Chief of Staff indicate the strategic intent for the evolution of the French armed forces.
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French Air force netrualise Drones with C-UAS rifle and 12 gauge  rifle (Picture source: French MoD)

In the meantime, these FPV drones are reportedly responsible for 80% of armored vehicle destructions on the front line. With a range that can be three times greater than that of a "classic" anti-tank missile, these devices can easily follow their targets before striking them at their most vulnerable points.

Currently, countermeasures against FPV drones are mainly technological, relying on electronic warfare capabilities. The idea is to jam the drone's navigation system and/or cut off the link with its operator.

However, a more "rustic" method can be implemented: the shotgun, as the pellets cartridge can be sufficient to destabilize an FPV drone and render it ineffective. In fact, last April, it was reported that the Ukrainian army had just ordered such weapons - specifically Escort BTS12 shotguns - from the Turkish arms manufacturer Hatsan.

The Escort BTS12 is a semi-automatic shotgun that fires 12-gauge cartridges containing lead pellets. In a "bullpup" configuration, this weapon is relatively short, which means it can potentially be used by armored vehicle crews.

In France, the shotgun is also part of the anti-drone arsenal. Thus, and the information went somewhat unnoticed when it was published in June 2023 during the first edition of the LADA Day exercise, the French Navy fusiliers have "pump-action shotguns loaded with ALDA ammunition" to shoot down aerial drones. This is in addition to their autonomous anti-drone jammer rifles.

This 12-gauge shotgun technique is already used on the front line; you may remember the video of the Russian soldier shooting down a drone with a single shot. Here is the video capture of that moment.

Today, the 12-gauge shotgun is used in the French armed forces, as seen in the photo of the article. Indeed, the air force uses an anti-drone rifle to immobilize the drone and a 12-gauge to destroy it. But the 12-gauge shotgun is issued in many units because it is particularly suited to jungle combat, as well as forced entry operations, making it more of a tool than a weapon in the strictest sense.

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