Fallon to face questions on drone targeted killing – but will there be answers?

Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will face questions from the Human Rights Select Committee on Wednesday (16 Dec) over the targeted killing of two British men in a UK drone strike.  21-year old Reyaad Khan from Cardiff was killed in the strike in Syria on 21 August 2015 alongside 26-year old Ruhul Amin from Aberdeen and an unknown third man.

As the Prime Minster acknowledged in his statement to the House of Commons,the air strike was a significant departure from previous military operations: Read more

New figures on UK drone use in Iraq and Syria

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released new data on UK drone operations in Iraq and Syria to Drone Wars in response to a Freedom of Information request. The data covers Reaper operations in Iraq and Syria in the third quarter of the year (June – Sept 2015) as well as new data on British Tornado missions and strikes since the beginning of operations against ISIS.

The table below give details of UK drone operations in Iraq and Syria since the beginning of the year (data for whole operation is here). Note figures here use the ‘UK methodology’ for calculating number of strikes (see more below). Read more

UK rebrands Predators as ‘Protectors’ while ignoring difficult questions

In an interview with the Telegraph ahead of the Tory party conference, David Cameron announced that the UK is to again double the UK’s fleet of armed drones, this time up from 10 US Reapers to 20 ‘Protector’ drones.  No such drone currently exists and some began to wonder whether Cameron had simply got the name wrong. However later clarification from the MoD seemed to indicate that the ‘Protector’ was to be the British name for the longer range and extended endurance Predator-B drone (commonly known as the Reaper) which is currently going through a development programme in the US in part to gain the necessary certification to fly in European airspace (although this is not confirmed). Read more

British drones and targeted killing: UK follows the lead of the US and Israel

David Cameron announcing drone targeted killing of Reyaard Khan
David Cameron announcing drone targeted killing of Reyaard Khan

Yesterday’s statement from Prime Minister David Cameron that a British drone had targeted and killed a 21 year-old British citizen, Reyaad Khan, outside a situation of armed conflict after he had been put on what amounts to a kill list months earlier is shocking.  Time and again in response to questions about the UK’s drone programme British ministers, defence officials and military officers have distanced themselves from the type of targeted killing undertaken by US drones outside a situation of formal conflict.  ‘It’s something we wouldn’t do’ has been the mantra. Read more

‘Into the Fire: The dangers of redeploying British armed drones after Afghanistan’

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As NATO military operations come to an end in Afghanistan and the MoD faces a judicial review over its refusal to detail where UK drones will next be sent, Drone Wars UK is publishing a new briefing on the dangers of re-deploying UK armed drones.

The UK has used armed drones to undertake airstrikes since 2004, either in conjunction with the US or utilizing its own fleet of armed Reapers acquired in 2007.  And increasingly it seems the UK is  relying on its Reaper drones to undertake airstrikes, with Ministry of Defence figures showing the percentage of British airstrikes in Afghanistan undertaken by drones rising from 52% in 2009/10 to 82% in 2013/14.

Although the UK has committed to continue to operate its Reaper drones, due to air safety regulations they would simply not be allowed to fly in British airspace. So far the MoD have refused to reveal where their long-term home will be – locations in the Middle East or Africa are the most likely option – but it is difficult to be certain without Read more