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
Speaking to journalists yesterday before meeting with his French counterpart, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told journalists that all ten of the UK’s armed Reapers were “out on service, each one of them.” Previously the MoD has told Drone Wars UK and others that while some Reapers were undertaking combat operations in Iraq and Syria others were in storage in the UK although it refused to detail the numbers. Read more
The final text of the Declaration on Security and Defence signed at the UK-France Summit last week has now been released and it reveals some details about future European drone projects. The whole document is worth reading to get an understanding of where UK-French military co-operation is heading, for example:
“Based on our experience of leadership in foreign policy and defence, the UK and France believe it is essential to take a comprehensive approach to safeguarding European and trans-Atlantic security. This means tackling instability where it arises, preventing conflict, building the capacity of local forces and encouraging long-term economic development as the most effective means to guarantee both the stability of our neighbourhood, the safety of our citizens and the security of our wider interests.” (Para 5)
Prime Minister David Cameron and President François Hollande held a mini Anglo-French Summit today at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Military co-operation was part of the discussions, with advancing the Anglo-French drone programmes a key item on the agenda. While there is little detail yet, it has been announced that the two countries have agreed to commit a further £120m to the Future Air Combat System programme for a further two-year feasibility study led by BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation.
The Future Air Combat System is a programme of ongoing work on future unmanned combat systems. The UK MoD awarded £40m of funding to this programme in January 2012 and in July 2012 France and UK jointly awarded Euros 13m towards the programme. Read more
European countries are piling more pressure on the US to allow them to buy armed Predator and Reaper drones. As we have previously reported Germany wants to buy armed Reaper drones from the US and France too has reported this week that it ‘expects’ the US to allow it to acquire unarmed Reapers as a step towards it aim of acquiring armed drone capability.
This week the USAF released an accident investigation report into the crash of a US Predator drone in Afghanistan in April 2012. This crash brings the number of drone crashes in our updated database to 100 (see full database here) and so we thought it a good time to do some data crunching.
Our database primarily contains details of crashes of Class 2 and Class 3 UAVs (i.e. medium and large drones – see here for explanation of drone class and size) since January 2007. However there are a few occasions when small drone crashes have been included for some notable reasons (i.e. crashed with another aircraft). We continue to maintain this database as, although safety and reliability is a key issue in the growing use of unmanned aerial vehicles, nobody appears to be publicly compiling drone crash information. We are not claiming that our database is complete. Given the secretive nature of drone operations and development, it is highly likely that other drone crashes have occurred and not been publicly reported. Read more