UK-French combat drone project gets more funding

PM to press Hollande on EU reformPrime Minister David Cameron and President François Hollande held a mini Anglo-French Summit today at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.  Military co-operation was part of the discussions, with advancing the Anglo-French drone programmes a key item on the agenda.  While there is little detail yet, it has been announced that the two countries have agreed to commit a further £120m to the Future Air Combat System programme for a further two-year feasibility study led by BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation.

The Future Air Combat System is a programme of ongoing work on future unmanned combat systems.   The UK MoD awarded £40m of funding to this programme in January 2012 and in July 2012 France and UK jointly awarded Euros 13m towards the programme. Read more

Drone campaigners vow to pursue transparency despite losing Information Tribunal

FoI_logo1Press Statement

Anti-drone campaigners vowed to continue fighting for greater transparency on the use of armed drones despite losing an appeal against the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to share more information about the UK’s use of armed drones in Afghanistan.

Last week at the UN General Assembly two UN Special Rapporteurs urged the three countries that are currently using armed drones – the US, Israel and the UK – to be much more transparent about their use.  In sharp contrast the Information Tribunal has agreed the MoD can withhold basic details about UK drone strikes in Afghanistan. Read more

Drone protests just beginning say activists

drone_protest_courtAs many of you will have seen reported in the media the Waddington Six trial took place yesterday.  All six  spoke about the dangers of drone warfare and how the use of drones by British forces breaches international law.   District Judge John Stoddert listened carefully to everything that was said, but stated that he felt constrained by what he could do.  As has been reported in various media, the judge said that he convicted “with a heavy heart” and then went on to urge the six to appeal to a higher court as there were important issues in the case that needed careful examination.  The six are considering their next move.    For a good summary of the day see War isn’t a video game: witnessing (against) drone warfare. Read more

UK Defence Select Committee announces remit of inquiry into use of drones

Last November we reported that  the UK Defence Select Committee was considering an inquiry into the growing use of drones as part of a wider inquiry leading up to the Strategic Defence Review.  Today, the Committee has announced further details in a press release (below).  Drone Wars UK early submission to the inquiry is available here.  More on this soon no doubt. Read more

After five years of British drone strikes, five basic facts we are simply not allowed to know

Defence Minister Philip Dunne inspects new Reaper Ground Control Station at RAF Waddington Dec 2012
Defence Minister Philip Dunne inspects new Reaper Ground Control Station at RAF Waddington Dec 2012

Five years ago this week the first British drone strike took place somewhere in Afghanistan.  Like the more than 380 British drone strikes since, details of that first strike remain shrouded in secrecy.

Although we don’t know the exact day (all the MoD reported at the time was that it had taken place ‘in the past week’), subsequent MoD reports have dated UK drones strikes back to late May 2008.  The location of the strike, why it occurred and, if anyone was killed, who they were, all remain secret.

In the five years since, the Ministry of Defence has refused to answer many questions about its use of armed drones.  Freedom of Information requests and questions asked by MPs in the House of Commons have been repeatedly refused on security grounds or that to answer would endanger our relationship with another state (no prizes for guessing who that is). Read more

First British drone strike carried out from UK RAF Waddington

British Reaper drone controlled from RAF Waddington

Less than a week ago, the UK MoD announced that British Reaper drones over Afghanistan are now being controlled directly from the UK.

This morning  a number of British defence journalists are reporting that the first British drone strike from UK soil was carried out yesterday (30 April)  from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.  No details about the strike have officially been released, nor are they likely to be given the secrecy surrounding the use of British drones.  [UPDATE BELOW] Read more