The fourth industrial revolution (IR) has bought about cyber-physical systems that are changing the landscape of war between state and non-state actors. Smart robotics, autonomous vehicles, materials that are lighter and tougher mean that for the first time non-state adversaries such as ISIS, Boko-Haram and Al-Qaeda can access aerial warfare assets, particularly with the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
IEDs consist of an initiating mechanism, a detonator, an explosive charge and a casing with or without projectiles such as nails or rocks that produce lethal damage. The objects and materials IEDs are made out of vary and include artillery rounds, mortar rounds and aerial bombs, while certain fertilisers and TNT are used as explosives.
Variants of IEDs contain radiological, chemical or biological components. Vehicle-borne IEDs aimed at destroying buildings are generally larger and packed with more explosives to deliver a bigger payload. More sophisticated IEDs used to destroy armoured vehicles, such as IEDs with shaped-charge warheads that upon detonation create molten metal that penetrates heavy armour, have proven powerful enough to destroy M1 Abrams tanks.