While already known for racketeering, intimidating violence and family loyalty it turns out the Sicilian Mafia are also pioneers of military technology.

Nearly 20 years before the US redefined modern warfare with terrifying and sophisticated drones, the 'Cosa Nostra' were already experimenting with ways to deliver deadly airborne ordinance.

Supergrass Gaspare Spatuzza told an Italian court on Tuesday how he had been ordered to investigate the viability of drones by two Mafia bosses called the Graviano brothers.

gaspare spatuzza

Gaspare Spatuzza is testifying against ten mafia bosses and high-ranking Italian officials

He said: "Graviano ordered me to buy a radio controlled aircraft.

"He said others had already bought them and we needed to carry out tests for transforming them into flying bombs by loading them with explosives."

"I carried out some tests. We needed to learn how to pilot it and steer it towards targets, loading it with a modest amount of explosives," reports the Telegraph.

Spatuzza was arrested in 1997 and convicted of 40 murders before "finding god" and becoming a snitch on his former colleagues.

He was testifying at a trial connected with the 1992 murder of magistrate Paolo Borsellino when the Mafia remotely blew up a stretch of motorway he was travelling on.

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  • catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight

    An image provided by the US navy shows sailors moving an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) at dawn aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The drone was launched off the George H.W. Bush to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • An image provided by the US Navy shows sailors working on an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) at dawn aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The drone was launched off the George H.W. Bush to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • An image provided by the US Navy shows sailors moving an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) at dawn aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The drone was launched off the George H.W. Bush to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • In this image provided by the U.S. Navy an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator is towed Monday, May 13, 2013 into the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. The carrier is scheduled to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck Tuesday May 14, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication (AP Photo/US Navy, Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • This image provided by the US navy shows sailors moving an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator onto an aircraft elevator aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The drone was launched off the George H.W. Bush to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Phioto/U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • X-47B

    The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator taxies Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft currently under development by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp., Alan Radecki)

  • X-47B

    The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator taxies Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Atlantic Ocean. Harry S. Truman is the first aircraft carrier to host test operations for an unmanned aircraft. The X-47B is a tailless, strike fighter-sized unmanned aircraft currently under development by Northrop Grumman as part of the U.S. Navyís Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp., Alan Radecki)

  • In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, Dave Lorenz, a Northrop Grumman deck operator, drives an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator using an arm-mounted controller on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush Friday May 10, 2013. The George H.W. Bush is scheduled to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck Tuesday May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/US Navy, Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter)

  • In this image provided by the U.S. Navy an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator sits on an aircraft elevator of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. BushMonday May 6, 2013. The George H.W. Bush is scheduled to be the first aircraft carrier to catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck Tuesday May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/US Navy, Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis)

  • A Navy X-47B drone is launched off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The plane isn't intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • Dave Lorenz, Bruce McFadden

    Northrop Grumman test pilots, Dave Lorenz, of Md., center, Md., and Bruce McFadden, left, of Md., prepare to taxi the Navy X-47B drone to be launched off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone, left, taxis in front of an F/A18 as it is prepared to be launched off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. It was the Navy's first test flight of the unmanned aircraft off a carrier. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone is prepared for launch off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. It was the Navy's first test flight of the unmanned aircraft off a carrier. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone is launched off the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The plane isn't intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • This image provided by the US navy shows the launch of an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush offf the coast of Virginia Tuesday may 14, 2013 (CVN 77). George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy,Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tony D. Curtis)

  • Navy Launches First Drone From Aircraft Carrier

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - MAY 14: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy courtesy of Northrop Grumman, an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to successfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles. (Photo by Alan Radecki/U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman via Getty Images)

  • Navy Launches First Drone From Aircraft Carrier

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - MAY 14: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to sucessfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles. (Photo by U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

  • Navy Launches First Drone From Aircraft Carrier

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - MAY 14: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to sucessfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Read Castillo/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

  • A Navy x-47B drone does a fly buy the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush after it was launched off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • Navy Launches First Drone From Aircraft Carrier

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - MAY 14: In this handout released by the U.S. Navy, An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator flies over the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 14, 2013 in the Atlantic Ocean. George H.W. Bush is the first aircraft carrier to sucessfully catapult-launch an unmanned aircraft from its flight deck. The Navy plans to have unmanned aircraft on each of its carriers to be used for surveillance and be armed and used in combat roles. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Walter/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

  • A Navy X-47B drone does a fly buy the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush after it was launched off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The plane isn't intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone does a fly by the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush after it was launched from the carrier off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

  • A Navy X-47B drone does a fly buy the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush after it was launched off the coast of Virginia, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. The plane isn't intended for operational use, but it will be used to help develop other unmanned, carrier-based aircraft. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)