Although British Reaper drones currently continue to operate over Iraq and Syria, the real desire by British political and military leaders to prove that despite Brexit, the UK is willing, ready and able to co-operate in militarily operations with other European nations could potentially see British drones deployed to the Sahel region. No doubt the recent questions about the viability of NATO in light of Trump’s political manoeuvring makes co-operating militarily with European partners seem even more important to the UK government. With France and the US engaged in separate counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel, and other European nations contributing to a peacekeeping mission there, over the past few weeks there have been some signs – including the deployment of UK troops and military helicopters – that the UK may join other Western forces in the area. Read more
A Ministry of Defence press conference has revealed that as the war against ISIS ends, British Reaper drones are to stay deployed in the Middle East after other UK aircraft return home . As The Times reported
‘Air Commodore Johnny Stringer, who led the British air campaign against the terrorist group until last month, said that drones and other surveillance aircraft would continue to fly over Iraq and Syria to help local forces guard against the militants returning.,
The imminent defeat of ISIS in Iraq should see British drones grounded. But will they continue to launch strikes in what is becoming a perpetual war?
This month (October 2017) marks ten years of British Reaper drone operations. Acquired on a temporary basis as an ‘Urgent Operational Capability’, the UK began operating armed drones in Afghanistan in October 2007 after having three delivered directly to Kandahar airport. A decade later the Reapers have been in continuous use and are now deemed a ‘core capability’. Having already tripled the number in service, the government are in the process of increasing the fleet up to 26 as the new, updated version of Reaper (re-branded by the British government as ‘Protector’) are delivered over the next two – three years. Read more
Despite the catastrophic effects of the 2011 military intervention, momentum seems to be growing among western governments for further air strikes in Libya, this time against ISIS.
When asked by the Telegraph last month if Libya could be the next target for British military intervention, a British Government source said: “Things are moving in that direction. We are taking it one step at a time.” Military sources subsequently briefed the media that US and British Special Forces were in Libya gathering intelligence to prepare for a possible deployment of up to Read more
Amidst its reporting of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, The Telegraph published an essay on Saturday by Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British army. In ‘Drone attacks are a vital part of modern warfare’ Dannatt addresses those who feel, as he put it, “a nagging sense of unease” about the drone targeted killing of Mohammed Emwazi aka ‘Jihadi John’.
The essay, using the drone strike on Emwazi as an example, attempts to justify in a broad way the use of armed drones in general as well as their use for targeted killing beyond the battlefield. Read more
A year after the UK doubled its drone fleet David Cameron visited RAF Waddington today to signal further commitment to – and spending on – drones and special forces. The Prime Minster told the media that he had asked Defence Chiefs to look at how to do more to counter the threat posed by ISIS including spending more on “spy planes, drones and Special Forces.” Cameron insisted that “in the last 5 years, I have seen just how vital these assets are in keeping us safe.” He also, according to reports, suggested that the new Aircraft Carrier, Queen Elizabeth could be used to deploy drones in the future. Read more