PR Trumps Transparency Part II: Government response to Select Committee report on drones

responseThe Government Response to the Defence Select Committee Report on ‘Remotely Piloted Air Systems’ (drones to the rest of us) was published on 29 July. As we wrote when the Committee’s report was originally published in March, there is a gaping hole in the document where actual details of UK drone operation in Afghanistan – and an analysis of their impact on the ground – should be. Without this crucial information it is, in our opinion, impossible to undertake any proper assessment of “the current and future use” of drones, as the Committee claims it has done.

Despite this obvious omission from its investigation – or perhaps because of it – the Defence Select Committee was able to be enthusiastic about the use of drones, calling them “a key military capability for the future.”  The report did however make some observations and recommendations, to which the Government has now responded. Read more

New figures show UK increasingly relying on drones for strikes in Afghanistan

Newly released Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures show that the UK is increasingly relying on its armed Reaper drones to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.  The figures show that the use of drones to carry out attacks in Afghanistan has risen from roughly half in 2009/10 to more than four-fifths today.

Two weeks ago SNP Defence Spokesperson Angus Robertson MP received an answer to a question on the use of drones versus other fixed-wing aircraft to launch munitions in Afghanistan: Read more

Resisting the Drone Wars: Campaign Day 14 June

Click to download flyer
Click to download flyer

The Drone Campaign Network is holding a day gathering for those interested in campaigning on the growing use of drones.  The event will take place at Friends Meeting House, Euston on Saturday 14 June.  The day will include speakers, workshops and planning for the Week of Action on Drones later this year. Speakers include

Workshops will focus on national and local campaigns around the use of both military and civil drones.

The event is free but donations are welcome. Read more

Watch out! Watchkeepers over Wiltshire

Watchkeeper UAV first flight in UK at MoD Aberporth. 14th April 2010.Drone Wars UK understands that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will announce on Monday (24 Feb) that live training flights of the Watchkeeper drone will begin over Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

The Watchkeeper drone has been developed under a £900m MoD contract by U-TacS,  a joint-venture company owned by Thales UK and Israeli company Elbit Systems.  Watchkeeper has now gained certification from the Military Aviation Read more

British drone strikes in Afghanistan using borrowed US drones revealed

reaper-at-nightupdated below

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that British RAF pilots have borrowed USAF Reaper drones more than 250 times in Afghanistan, launching weapons on at least 39 occasions. However the numbers of strikes by RAF pilots using US Reapers drones is likely to be higher as the MoD  are keeping secret the number of weapons launches by RAF pilots when they have been officially embedded with the USAF. Read more

New British drone strike stats released to Drone Wars UK

In a response to our FoI request the MoD has released new figures detailing the number and type of weapons launched by British Reaper drones in Afghanistan each month since May 2008.  While the MoD have previously given annual totals, this is the first time that figures have been broken down for each month. The figures come in response to our Freedom of Information request that also reveals the number of strikes in Afghanistan undertaken by British RAF pilots using borrowed USAF Reaper drones (see our story here). Read more