Drone Wars UK has obtained the first detailed figures for use of armed British drones in Iraq and Syria since UK operations began in October 2014. A Ministry of Defence (MoD) response to a Freedom of Information request from the group show that the UK flew just over 100 armed Reaper missions in Iraq in the ten weeks up until 31 December 2014, launching 38 Hellfire missiles. Although Parliament expressly granted authorisation only for the use of military force in Iraq, 5 Reaper flights took place over Syria although no weapons were launched. Read more
On Monday 12 January the UK Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon told the House of Commons that there had been 99 UK airstrikes in Iraq since the beginning of airstrikes on 22 October. On Tuesday 13 January the MoD reported a further strike bringing the total to 100. By our calculations, using reports published by the MoD on their website, approximately one-third have been carried out by the UK’s armed Reaper drones (see table below). 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.
The MoD stated in its FoI response to Chris Cole, Director of the campaign group:
“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.”
Five years ago the suggestion that within a decade drone strikes would be taking place on a regular basis in multiple countries with little notice by the mainstream media or the general public seemed far-fetched to many. Today, with drone strikes being undertaken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, and no doubt Libya again too soon (and not to forget the regular sporadic bursts of Israeli strikes in Gaza) such a prediction looks a lot more likely, if not a certainty. Read more
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.
Over the past 3 months US, UK and other forces have carried out airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria using manned aircraft and drones. There is little public available information as yet about the impact of these strikes on the ground . Here’s is what we know – and don’t know – so far.
On August 7, President Obama ordered what he called “limited strikes” against ISIS in order to protect American personnel in Iraq. At the same time he stated that he would “not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq”. US airstrikes began that next day and initiated another US military intervention in Iraq that has subsequently been named Operation Inherent Resolve. Read more