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 →
Following a Freedom of Information request from Drone Wars UK the Ministry of Defence has revealed for the first time that the UK’s Reaper drone fleet has relocated partly to the Middle East and partly to the UK after the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“I can confirm Reaper, the RAF’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, has relocated to the United Kingdom and the Middle East. Under Section 16 of the Act (Advice and Assistance), you may find it helpful to note that the Reaper aircraft being returned to the UK will be kept in storage.”
The MoD has announced the first UK drone strike in Iraq against ISIS militants. The strike come almost exactly a decade after the first UK drone strike in Iraq in 2004 when RAF pilots operated US drones as part of the Joint US/UK Combined Joint Predator Task Force
Yesterday’s MoD statement said:
This weekend saw the first air strike by a Royal Air Force Reaper remotely piloted air system (RPAS) as British forces continue to assist the Iraqi Government in their fight against ISIL.
A series of coalition missions were conducted near Bayji, north of Baghdad, where ISIL terrorists were laying improvised explosive devices.
The Reaper RPAS, using procedures identical to those of manned aircraft, successfully attacked the terrorists using a Hellfire missile.
UK Reaper continued to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to coalition aircraft which enabled them to conduct further strikes.
The UK’s new Watchkeeper drone has finally been sent to Afghanistan. Well over three years late and just weeks before UK forces are due to be withdrawn, the MoD announced that Watchkeeper had become “fully operational.” However it is not clear what this means especially as all remaining UK troops in Afghanistan have been withdrawn to Camp Bastion and with the MoD announcing last month that all UK “offensive operations” have ceased. The MoD refused to tell journalists how many Watchkeepers have actually been sent to Afghanistan. Read more →
The MoD have announced today (3 July 2014) that the additional five armed Reaper drones purchased as an urgent operational requirement (UOR) in December 2010) have begun operations in Afghanistan. Questions have been asked about why equipment bought urgently has taken over three and half-years to come into service with Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, Tom Watson MP, telling the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:
“‘Urgent Operational Requirements’ are meant to be used for emergencies in combat zones. This revelation, that approximately £100m of taxpayers’ money used has been used to purchase equipment that may never be used in Afghanistan, is a scandal at a time when service personnel are being made redundant.”