New research shows rise in number of states deploying armed drones

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A new report published by Drone Wars UK reveals that over the last five years the number of countries actively using armed drones has quadrupled. Drone Wars: The Next Generation demonstrates that from just three states (US, UK and Israel) in 2013, there are now a further nine who have deployed armed drones in a variety of roles including for armed conflict and counter-terror operations. The report also shows that a further nine states are very close to having armed drone capabilities, almost doubling the number of existing users. To this number, we have added five non-state actors who have used armed drones, which will take the number of active operators of armed drones to over 25 in the next few years.

A number of studies by think tanks and NGOS over the last few years have shown that military drone technology has spread to over 90 countries, however, the ability to use armed drones has until recently remained in the hands of only a relatively few states. Some media reports, perhaps egged on by special Read more

Three-month snapshot shows expanding use of armed drones

Over the past few years States, international organisations and civil society groups have expressed concern about the increasing proliferation and use of armed drones.  To illustrate what is happening, Drone Wars has compiled details of the use of armed drones in the first three months of 2018.  Due to both the lack of transparency by operators and the difficulty of reporting strikes from the remote locations where they often occur, this survey is undoubtedly incomplete.  In addition the fact that multiple nations are operating armed drones to launch strikes against differing groups in Syria (US, UK, Israel, Turkey and Iran)  and Yemen (US, UAE and Saudi Arabia) makes attribution and accountability for strikes there almost impossible.  Nevertheless this short survey (1 Jan 2018 – 31 March 2018) gives something of an insight into the use of armed drones by multiple operators to launch strikes in multiple countries. Read more

Drones, proliferation and the MTCR: US presents discussion paper  

Over the past last couple of months there has been several reports in the defence and international press that the United States is looking to ‘renegotiate’ the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in order to allow it to increase the export of its unmanned drones. Alongside the US-led initiative to put in place a new international political agreement on the proliferation and use of armed UAVs – which many experts see as possibly weakening current international controls – this new move is worrying for those concerned about international peace and security. Read more

Drone strikes spread as proliferation surges

A new wave of users have launched drone strikes either on their own territory or across borders over the past 15 months.

bayraktar-armed
Turkish armed drone – The Bayraktar TB2

While the majority of attention on armed drones has focused on US use (and to some extent on the UK and Israeli), growing proliferation of these systems has meant that a number of other countries have acquired or developed armed drones and are beginning to regularly use them to launch strikes.

Most of these second wave of countries have acquired their armed drones from China – either the slightly older ‘Wing Loong (‘Pterodactyl’) developed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group Read more

European use of military drones expanding

European-ReaperTwo weeks ago a new coalition of European civil society groups (including Drone Wars UK) launched a Call to Action on Armed Drones at a meeting in Brussels attended by, amongst others, US drone whistleblowers Cian Westmoreland and Lisa Ling.

The European Forum on Armed Drones (EFAD) launch was on the eve of an important European Parliament meeting, jointly organised by the subcommittee on Human Rights and the Subcommittee on Security and Security and Defence, focusing on the human rights impact of armed drones in counter-terrorism operations.   A video of the meeting, including inputs from Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve and Radhya Almutawakel of the Yemeni Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights is available here. Read more

Drone proliferation in light of increased targeted killing

Drones_for_saleThe news that the UK has followed the US and Israel in using armed drones to launch a targeted killing outside of UN sanctioned armed conflict should make the international community even more concerned about the growing proliferation of armed drones.

All three countries known to have used armed drones have now gone beyond the generally accepted provisions of international law in this area, although perhaps unsurprisingly the countries themselves refute this. Read more