Drone Watch – Main page

General Atomics image of new ‘Protector’ drone flying over London

Increasingly, large drones that fly ‘beyond visual line of sight’ are moving from the military sphere into the domestic realm. UK Drone Watch has been set up to scrutinise the expansion of the use of drones and in particular, their use for security and surveillance purposes.

Here in the UK, the government is rapidly pushing ahead with plans to enable large unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fly freely within UK airspace as part of its Airspace Modernisation Strategy.  These plans are keenly supported by the growing drone industry and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) who are taking a significant lead in this area with plans, for example, to fly the latest version of the Predator drone – which the MoD is calling ‘Protector’  – in UK airspace.

For more details see our background page.


UK Government release ‘Drone Ambition Statement’ to renew push to open UK skies to drones

Jul 2022: Amidst the hoopla of the Farnborough Airshow last week, the Government launched what it described as it’s ‘Drone Ambition Statement’. However, ‘Advancing airborne autonomy: Commercial drones saving money and saving lives in the UK’ is in reality, a hodgepodge of previous announced policies, ‘refreshed’ statistics and pleas to business and regulators to ‘get on with it’…  Read more 


Submission on use of the military drones in countering migrant crossings

Feb 2022: Boris Johnson announced in mid-January that the armed forces was to take charge of limiting migrants crossing the English Channel. Our submission to the Committee on this issue looks in particular at how drones are often seen as a ‘solution’… Read more.

UK Drone Watch submission to Future of Flight regulatory review

Nov 2021: Our submission to this consultation focuses on the development of regulation and legislation covering the opening of UK airspace to a wider range and greater number of drones…  Read more.

On the horizon: drone spies coming to UK skies

Oct 2021: In the last few months Drone Wars and UK Drone Watch have organised protests outside RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire and RAF Lossiemouth in North East Scotland. We were protesting the decision to allow US arms manufacturer General Atomics to conduct experimental flights of their SkyGuardian drone in UK airspace. SkyGuardian is a prototype of the UK’s … Read more.

CAA opens UK skies to military drones

Aug 2021: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted permission to US drone company General Atomics to conduct experimental flights of its new SkyGuardian drone in UK airspace. The MoD is buying 16 SkyGuardian drones, but renaming them as ‘Protector’. This is the first time that large military drones will be allowed to fly in the UK … Read more.

Polling shows significant public concern over plans to expand use of drones in the UK

Feb 2021: A new poll has found significant public concern about proposals to open UK skies to large drones. A poll of 2,000 people carried out for UK Drone Watch by polling company Yonder on plans to open UK airspace to drones that fly ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) found that…  Read more.

Benchmarking police use of drones in the UK

Nov 2020: As part of our work looking at the opening of UK skies to large ‘beyond visual line of sight’ drones for surveillance and security purposes, we undertook a comprehensive Freedom of Information (FoI) survey of police use of drones in order to benchmark current police use. In particular we wanted to investigate: if the use … Read more.

Announcing a new initiative:  UK Drone Watch

Nov 2020: Since 2010, Drone Wars UK has been shining a spotlight on the military’s use of drones and the impact on peace and security around the globe. Now, both in the US and in Europe, large military-grade drones which fly ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS) are moving from the battlefield to the domestic front. Here … Read more.