New Report: British Drone Operations Against ISIS, 2014-2016

feb-17-report-coverbDrone 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.

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British military drones in 2016: Strikes continue as future drone programmes progress

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

An RAF Reaper droneBritish 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

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

British air strikes in Iraq and Syria increase by 85% – UK approaching 1,000 strikes milestone

Jul16-6 month figsAnalysis of data released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) shows that British air strikes in Iraq and Syria in the first half of the year increased by an enormous 85% over the previous six months.

FoI data as well as updates published on the MoD’s website show that 249 strikes were launched from British aircraft and drones between July and December 2015, while 464 strikes were launched in the first six months of 2016.

As of the 30 June, the UK has carried out a total of 944 air strikes in Iraq and Syria since September 2014 and it’s likely that the UK will reach the significant milestone of 1,000 air strikes this month.  More than 13,500 strikes have been launched by the Coalition as a whole, the vast majority by the USAF.  However it should be remember that the term ‘air strike’ Read more

FoI reveals only 5% of British air strikes in Iraq and Syria are pre-planned

drone targetA Freedom of Information request by Drone Wars UK has revealed that only 5% of British air strikes in Iraq and Syria are pre-planned.

According to the FoI reponse from the Ministry of Defence out of 414 UK air strikes in Iraq and Syria during 2015, 395 were launched under dynamic targeting procedures while just 19 were pre-planned.  Dynamic targeting procedures are used when aircraft are already in the air and either ‘targets of opportunity’ are spotted or strikes are launched in defence of troops on the ground during direct combat. Read more

Scepticism over casualty claims as new data suggests some UK drones may have moved

Kobani air strike
Coalition air strike in Kobani, Syria

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