Anyone who has conducted interviews with around 60 Reaper drone crew members and given evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones will have learned a thing or two about the Royal Air Force’s armed drone programme. Step forward Dr Peter Lee, a former Air Force chaplain now Director of Security and Risk Research at Portsmouth University, who over the past few years has been undertaking a detailed study into the human dimension of RAF Reaper drone operations. Dr Lee recently lectured at the Royal Aeronautical Society about his research and his forthcoming book on the RAF’s drone community. Read more
Drone Wars UK is today publishing a new report detailing UK armed drone and air operations against ISIS. The report contains data on UK operations in Iraq and Syria gained through Freedom of Information requests since 2014 as well as background and a timeline of UK air operations. In addition, the report highlights continuing issues of concern about the use of armed drones reflected through the lens of UK drone operations.
The data shows that
- The UK has launched just over 2,500 missiles and bombs in 1,200 air strikes against ISIS until the end of 2016
- The number of UK drone flights in Iraq and Syria declined by 23% in 2016. Despite this, weapon launches from UK Reaper drones increased by 30% (from 274 in 2015 to 358 in 2016).
- 22% of the UK’s 726 air strikes in Iraq and Syria in 2016 were carried out by Reaper drones
- Since parliament approved the expansion of air strikes into Syria in Dec 2015, just 9% of UK strikes have taken place in Syria.
- In the final quarter of 2016, only 5% of UK air missions took place in Syria.
The UK continued to use its current drone fleet while progressing future armed drone programmes during the year. Here’s a round-up of some of the main news from 2016
UK drones in Iraq and Syria
British Reaper drones continued to operate over Iraq and Syria throughout the year as part of US-led Coalition to defeat ISIS. However we are not allowed to know exactly how many of Britain’s fleet are deployed there, or indeed, if any have been deployed elsewhere. In spring 2016 there was a noticeable decline in Reaper missions in Iraq and Syria which could indicate that some of the drones had been deployed elsewhere (perhaps for operations over Libya for example) although this remains speculation without further information. Read more
New data about UK military operations in Iraq and Syria has been released to Drone Wars UK and Vice News over the past few days following separate Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.
Vice News obtained details of the number of combatants killed or wounded in RAF strikes each month since Oct 2014. The data shows that just under 1,000 combatants had been killed with almost 100 wounded. While the MoD are extremely careful to say they cannot Read more
Today (4 March 2016) marks 500 days since British Reaper drones first deployed over Iraq (22 Oct 2014) and then Syria in their operations against ISIS. In that time, according to our analysis of the MoD updates on air strikes against ISIS (Daesh), there have been 250 British drone strikes in Iraq and 17 in Syria out of a total of 796 British air strikes (not including the Reyaad Khan strike on Aug 21 which MoD insists was not part of Operation Shader). Read more
The MoD has released new data on UK drone operations in Iraq and Syria to Drone Wars in response to a Freedom of Information request.
Figures for the second quarter of 2015 show a significant rise in the number of Reaper drone flights in Syria since the beginning of the year. In January just over 10% of UK Reaper drone sorties took place in Syrian airspace. In June 2015 this had risen to 40%. Read more