The revelation comes as a new Freedom of Information (FoI) response reveals an increase in the number of UK airstrikes in Iraq over the past quarter. According to the FoI data, UK Reaper and Typhoon aircraft launched 32 airstrikes (or ‘Weapon Release Events’ as the MoD now describes them) against ISIS in April-June 2020. Not since the end of the battle to regain control of Mosul in 2017 has the UK launched that number of strikes in Iraq. There have been no UK airstrikes in Syria since July 2019. Read more →
US drone manufacturer General Atomics is to fly one of the updated versions of the Predator drone – dubbed SkyGuardian by the company but named as the ‘Protector’ by the MoD – into the UK next month. The drone will undertake a 20 hour flight from the company’s test centre in North Dakota direct to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, arriving on 11 July to be part of the static display at the Fairford International Air Show later that week (13 – 15 July). It will be the first transatlantic flight for a medium altitude, long endurance (MALE) drone. Read more →
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), tactical reconnaissance radars, and surveillance systems, today announced that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems UK Ltd (GA-UK), an affiliated entity, has been established with an office in London. The office will be managed by Dr. Jonny King.
“We are pleased that the London office will provide dedicated support for the Ministry of Defence’s [MoD’s] Remotely Piloted Air Systems [RPAS] requirements,” said Neal Blue, Chairman and CEO of GA-ASI.
GA-ASI has delivered a total of six aircraft to the MoD since the first UK Predator® B/ MQ-9 Reaper UAS was deployed to Afghanistan in October 2007, with the fleet expected to nearly double in size over the next few years. The aircraft have logged over 17,000 flight hours to date in support of UK forces on the ground.
Today’s LA Times has an interesting article about US Predator and Reaper drone crashes compiled from Pentagon accident reports. The article reports that “thirty-eight Predator and Reaper drones have crashed during combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and nine more during training on bases in the U.S. — with each crash costing between $3.7 million and $5 million. Altogether, the Air Force says there have been 79 drone accidents costing at least $1 million each”. These reports do not, of course, include details about crashes of the CIA’s Predator’s in Pakistan.
In a sign of how touchy the General Atomics, producer of the Reaper and Predator drones are about criticism of their wonderful toy, Rear Adm. Thomas J. Cassidy Jr., President of the aircraft systems group at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in San Diego is quoted in the article saying
“These airplanes are flying 20,000 hours a month, OK? That’s a lot of flying. Some get shot down. Some run into bad weather. Some, people do stupid things with them. Sometimes they just run them out of gas.”
According to the Air Force reports, one drone crashed into a Sunni party headquarters in Mosul which must have been embarrassing. Another Predator drone was simply reported as ‘lost somewhere in Afghanistan’ after contact was lost and no wreckage found.