Skip to content

RAF ‘relying’ on drones in Afghanistan

Richard Norton-Taylor
Sunday 7 February 2010

A Reaper drone in southern Afghanistan

An MQ-9 Reaper drone takes off from Kandahar airbase in southern Afghanistan. Photograph: James Lee Harper/AFP/Getty Images

Freedom of information request reveals unmanned weapons more prominent in RAF strategy

British forces are relying increasingly on unmanned drones to attack targets in Afghanistan, mirroring controversial tactics used by the US.

New Ministry of Defence figures show the RAF has fired 84 missiles from Reaper drones since they were first deployed there in June 2008, with more than 20 being fired over the past two months.

The RAF has not disclosed the number of US-made Reapers deployed in Afghanistan, but say they will double the total over the next two years. Defence chiefs say they have been slow to recognise their potential, both in a surveillance role and as a weapons carrier.

They are launched from a base in Kandahar, but are controlled remotely thousands of miles away by a squadron of some 90 RAF personnel based at Creech US air force base in Nevada.

The drones can carry out surveillance – what the RAF describe as a “staring eye” – of the battlefield around the clock, far longer than conventional manned aircraft. They are highly suitable in Afghanistan where they are not generally vulnerable to enemy fire, defence officials say.

Once a target has been identified, the RAF remote controllers can instruct the drones to fire their two 500lb laser-guided bombs and four Hellfire missiles.

The MoD does not specify how the missiles have been used, arguing the details would hinder operational effectiveness. However, defence sources say the drones are used against a wide variety of targets, especially “high-value targets” – a reference to Taliban commanders. They are often called in by British special forces and army commanders on the ground.

Missiles from a US drone flying over South Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal region are believed to have killed Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban chief last year. Highly publicised CIA attacks on Taliban and al-Qaida suspects on both sides of the Pakistan-Aghanistan border have been criticised for killing civilian bystanders and violating Pakistan’s sovereignty.

The MoD says there have been no reports of RAF drones killing Freedocivilians.

The rules governing the firing of the Reapers’ missiles “are no different to those used for manned combat aircraft, the weapons are all precision guided and every effort is made to ensure the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties is minimised”, a defence official said.

There has been a long debate within defence circles about the legality of firing weapons from such a distance and about the authority given to drone controllers.

Chris Cole, director of the interfaith peace campaign Fellowship of Reconciliation, who used freedom of information legislation to shed light on the Reapers, said: “Drones are the latest in a long line of new weapons used in the mistaken belief that they will provide a clean and tidy solution to a conflict – time and again history has proved that this is a myth.”

He added: “We have a number of serious concerns not least because there is a picture beginning to emerge of high civilian casualties. In addition, the use of armed drones to target specific individuals could amount to summary or arbitrary execution”.

Philip Alston, a UN human rights special rapporteur, warned in October that the US use of drones to kill militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan may violate international law. He called on the US to explain the legal basis for killing individuals with its drones. Many US intelligence officials view the Predator drones as their most important weapon against al-Qaida.CIA director Leon Panetta called them the “only game in town” last year.

The RAF is also flying small manned twin turboprop Beechcraft King Air planes to complement surveillance missions undertaken by the unmanned Reapers. They are equipped with sophisticated infrared radar and antennae for electronic and communications eavesdropping.

The MoD bought an initial batch of six Reaper drones from the US firm General Atomics, at a reported cost of £6m. One of the drones crashed in Afghanistan in 2008 in what defence secretary Bob Ainsworth called “a forced landing”.

View the original article at Guardian

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Taliban.

Tagged with , , , .

One Response

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. uberVU - social comments linked to this post on February 8, 2010

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by darkpolitricks: New article on darkpolitricks: RAF ‘relying’ on drones in Afghanistan #News #Politics #NWO…

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's all happening now big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale". This site must be on some list at GCHQ/NSA as my AdSense revenue which I rely on has gone down by a third. Either people are not helping out by visiting sponsors sanymore or I am being blackballed like many YouTube sites.

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally I know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know some people in prison now for the content they had on their "secret private group". Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer Wickr. If you really need to, buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA/GCHQ to hack into. Ensure it has no GPS tracking on it and that the battery can be removed. These are usually built for old people to get used to technology storing only a set of numbers to call. However they have no games, applications to install or other ways people can exploit the computer tracking device you carry round with you most of the day - your smart phone. If you are paranoid ensure that you can remove the battery when travelling around and do so to prevent GPS tracking or phone mast triangulation. Even with your phone in Flight mode or turned off, it can be turned on remotely and any features like front or back cameras, microphones and keylogging software can be installed to trace you.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering rubbish) then I could REALLY do with some..

Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box and throw a few pound my way each month, it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why.


Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material.

Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and tag any tweets with alternative news from the mainstream with the #altnews hashtag I created to keep it alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?