Revealed: details of British drone attacks & plans to purchase more Reapers

Answering Questions: Dr Liam Fox

Catching up on Hansard, have just noticed that last week Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox revealed new details  about British Drone attacks in Afghanistan in response to written question from SNP MP Angus Robertson:

26 Oct 2010 : Column 173W

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many missions the MQ-9 Reaper has flown in Afghanistan since May 2008; and how many of those missions involved the release of each type of weapon. [18015]

Dr Fox: The primary role of the UK Reaper Remotely Piloted Air System is Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. Since October 2007, it has flown 1,344 sorties and since May 2008 employed 36 laser guided bombs and 84 Hellfire missiles in support of UK and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

A couple of days later, in response to a question from former Labour Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth,  MoD Procurement Minister Peter Luff revealed that the UK plans to purchase five more Reaper drones from the US  (28 Oct 2010 : Column 421W)

Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) he expects to order in the Spending Review period; and by what date he expects such vehicles to be in service; [20259]

(2) how many new unmanned aerial vehicles he expects to order; and what timescale he has set for their entry into service. [20418]

Peter Luff: The Ministry of Defence has in recent weeks placed an order for a further 100 Mini Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) Desert Hawk III Air Vehicles to sustain the capability which has been supporting our troops in theatre since 2007. These are expected to be delivered in 2011-12. Additionally, we plan to order and receive up to five additional Reaper remotely piloted aircraft during the Spending Review period. Consideration of our requirement for future persistent armed surface surveillance is in its early stages. A remotely piloted system is one of the potential options to deliver this capability.

Maybe we are entering a new period of government openness on the use of drones – or perhaps its just a co-incidence that the release of information came in the same week… but it is curious…..

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