The commander who oversaw the use of Reaper drones in Syria has said the relentless demand to deploy the unmanned aircraft means the RAF needs to test recruiting “18- and 19-year-olds straight out of the PlayStation bedroom” to operate the weapons.
Air Marshal Greg Bagwell, a former RAF deputy commander of operations, disclosed that the psychological pressure on drone operators in the UK was such that some had quit due to mental stress or illness. Continue reading
“The Hostile Use of Drones by Non-State Actors Against British Targets,” a new report by the Oxford Research Group’s Remote Control Project.
Chris Abbott, the lead author of the report and visiting research fellow at Bradford University’s School of Social and International Studies, said: “The use of drones for surveillance and attack is no longer the purview of state militaries alone. A range of terrorist, insurgent, criminal, corporate and activist groups have already shown their desire and ability to use drones against British targets.”
The Ministry of Defence told the Sunday Herald that it will not investigate reports of deaths on the ground in Syria and Iraq – from anyone but UK military personnel, and ‘local forces’ deemed friendly.
The UK Government is being urged to launch an immediate investigation after independent monitoring group Airwars reported between 72 and 81 civilian deaths in Iraq could be linked to British air strikes.
It is reported by Guardian that the Pentagon’s internal watchdog has questioned the air force’s increased spending on drones, suggesting its $8.8 billions spending on 46 armed Reaper drones is a waste of money.
As purchases of General Atomics’s MQ-9 Reaper ballooned from 60 aircraft in 2007 to the current 401, air force officials did not justify the need for an expanding drone fleet, the Pentagon said.
During that time, costs for purchasing one of the signature counter-terrorism weapons of Barack Obama’s presidency increased by 934%, from $1.1bn to more than $11.4bn, according to a declassified September report by the Pentagon inspector general. Purchasing costs are a fraction of what the drones cost to operate and maintain over their time in service: in 2012, the Pentagon estimated the total costs for them at $76.8bn.
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David Cronin, “Why is Europe obsessed with drones?,” Al Jazeera, 19 December 2013
Despite the economic crisis, the EU is facing serious lobbying to boost its defence spending.
Every time the West contemplates going to war, it’s a safe bet that “defence analysts” will pop up in the press bemoaning how Europe is militarily weaker than the United States. …
The 28-country bloc is under pressure from the arms industry to boost investment in drones. If this doesn’t occur “it’s quite inevitable that the defence base will further deteriorate,” Tom Enders, head of the Franco-German weapons producer EADS has warned. …
Dr Rafeef Ziadah from War on Want talks to Afshin Rattansi, the host of Going Underground, about the UK’s billion pound drones deal with Israel and the incompetence of the companies involved when it comes to getting them ready on schedule.