Military Spy Drones: How Domestic U.S. Drone Integration is Propelling Next Wave of Killer Drone Proliferation

Saturday, 22 January 2022 — CovertAction Magazine

“Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we’re looking at, and we can see everything.” [Source: wired.com]

Drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), were developed for war. The idea was first conceived in World War I and they were first adopted for surveillance purposes at the end of World War II and in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Then military drones like the Predator became armed during the “Global War on Terror.”

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Skyborg: AI control of military drones begins to take off

4 January 2022 — Drone Wars

In June 2021, Skyborg took control of an MQ-20 Avenger drone during a military exercise in California.

The influential State of AI Report 2021, published in October, makes the alarming observation that the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) for military purposes is now moving from research into the production phase.  The report highlights three indicators which it argues shows this development, one of which is the progress that the US Air Force Research Laboratory is making in testing its autonomous ‘Skyborg’ system to control military drones.

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Long read: Six strikes that show the reality of drone warfare today

3 December 2021 — Drone Wars

Chris Cole

Weddings. Hospitals. Refugee camps. Aid workers. All have become the target of lethal strikes this year due to the spreading use of drones by a growing number of states.  Here we detail six particular strikes and, below, reflect on what they show about the reality of drone warfare today.

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On the horizon: drone spies coming to UK skies

26 October 2021 — Drone Wars

On the horizon: drone spies coming to UK skies 26/10/2021Tim Street SkyGuardian flight trials over the UK in September 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 new armed drone, named Protector, which will replace the UK’s current Reaper armed drone fleet in 2024. As we have shown, the prospect of such large drones regularly flying in UK airspace raises significant safety and accountability concerns.

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Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale In Carceral Limbo While US Generals Shirk Responsibility For Deadly Strikes

24 September 2021 — The Dissenter

BY KEVIN GOSZTOLA

Daniel Hale (Photo: Bob Hayes)

Around two months ago, drone whistleblower Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison  after he stood before a federal judge and delivered a statement that demonstrated he was a person of conscience.

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MoD report urges embrace of human augmentation to fully exploit drones and AI for warfighting

9 June 2021 — Drone Warfare

Click to open report from MoD website.

The MoD’s internal think-tank, the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) along with the German Bundeswehr Office for Defence Planning (BODP) has published a disturbing new report urging greater investigation of – and investment in – human augmentation for military purposes. The following is a brief summary of the 100+ page document with short comment at the end.

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Ban Killer Drones: International Grassroots Movement to Ban Weaponized Drones Launched (Part 1)

10 May, 2021 — CovertAction Magazine

By Jack Gilroy

79-year-old Hancock drone protester sentenced to 90 days in jail - syracuse .comProtests outside Hancock Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York, in 2014. [Source: Syracuse.com]

An international grassroots movement to ban weaponized drones and military and police surveillance, entitled Ban Killer Drones, has been launched. Go to www.bankillerdrones.org to see the teamwork results of this excellent resource on the United States’s not-so-secret assassinations around the world.

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UK: The Overseas Operations Act, drone strikes, and the presumption of lawfulness

5 May 2021 — Drone Wars

The Overseas Operations Act, which recently became law, aims to limit the exposure of members of the armed forces to prosecution for crimes committed in the course of armed conflict. Unsurprisingly its passage through Parliament was fraught with controversy. In addition, the Parliamentary debate surrounding the Act highlighted that government thinking around the use of armed drones continues to rely on problematic presumptions and tropes. In its response to questions raised in Parliament, the government has betrayed its underlying view that drone warfare is inherently lawful and clean.

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The iWars Survey: Mapping the IT sector’s involvement in developing autonomous weapons

7 April 2021 — Drone Wars

Peter Burt

A new survey by Drone Wars has begun the process of mapping the involvement of information technology corporations in military artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics programmes, an area of rapidly increasing focus for the military.  ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age’, the recently published integrated review of security, defence, development, and foreign policy, highlighted the key roles that new military technologies will play in the government’s vision for the future of the armed forces and aspirations for the UK to become a “science superpower”.

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Drone Wars continues to pursue details of secret UK drone operations

5 March 2021 — Drone Wars

Chris Cole

Drone Wars is undertaking legal action in an attempt to gain details of secret British Reaper drone operations that has been taking place since at least 2019.  Appealing against the MoD’s refusal to answer both FoI requests and parliamentary questions about these missions, Drone Wars is seeking answers before an Information Tribunal.

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War Mongering for Artificial Intelligence

25 February 2021 — Global Research

The ghost of Edward Teller must have been doing the rounds between members of the National Commission on Artificial Intelligence.  The father of the hydrogen bomb was never one too bothered by the ethical niggles that came with inventing murderous technology.  It was not, for instance, “the scientist’s job to determine whether a hydrogen bomb should be constructed, whether it should be used, or how it should be used.”  Responsibility, however exercised, rested with the American people and their elected officials.

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All the warfare of the future’: Drones, new technology and the Integrated Review

18 February 2021 — Drone Wars

At the beginning of March, the government will publish its long-awaited Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, known (thankfully) as ‘The Integrated Review’.  It’s purpose is to “define the Government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy.”

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General Atomics plan flights of its new drone in UK – safety fears rerouted previous flights in the US

15 February 2021 — Drone Wars

A SkyGuardian UAV at General Atomics’ California factory.

General Atomics is to bring a company-owned SkyGuardian drone to the UK in the summer to undertake “a series of operational capability demonstrations” for the UK and other NATO members. The RAF’s soon to be acquired Protector drone is a version of the SkyGuardian with a range of UK modifications. The aircraft is being shipped into the UK rather than flying in (possibly due to the controversy around a previous flight to the UK) and will be based at RAF Waddington.

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On the Edge: Security, protracted conflicts and the role of drones in Eurasia

8 January 2021 — Drone Wars

Click to open report

Our new report, ‘On the Edge: Security, protracted conflicts and the role of drones in Eurasia’ examines the proliferation of drones and loitering munitions (often descried as suicide drones) across Eurasia. It charts their increasing use along the borders of separatist areas, aims to shed some light on the acquisition of large Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) Chinese drones in Central Asia, and asks why this has happened and what the likely consequences might be.

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Intervention ‘without the need to consider the human cost’: MoD thinking on UK’s new drone revealed

7 December 2020 — Drone Wars

Tim Street

Documents obtained by Drone Wars using the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) reveal how British military officials view the UK’s next generation armed drone, known as Protector, and the types of advanced capabilities the aircraft will have. Protector, which is set to replace the UK’s current fleet of armed Reaper drones in the mid-2020s, is essentially SkyGuardian—the latest version of the Predator drone being produced by General Atomics—plus UK modifications. The modifications revealed in the FOI documents (comprising presentations given by UK military personnel at a drone technology conference held last September) are significant because they provide an insight into how the Ministry of Defence (MOD) plan to utilise Protector.  Looking more widely, Protector epitomises the second drone age, characterised by a global expansion in both the type of drones being used by states and the scale of operations, including in the domestic sphere.

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Watch: ‘Drone Warfare: Today, Tomorrow, Forever?’

30 October 2020 — Drone Wars

Chris Cole

Here’s a recording of the webinar to mark our 10th anniversary ‘Drone Warfare: Today, Tomorrow, Forever?’

The event featured:

  • Aditi Gupta, Coordinator for the All-Party Parliamentary Group
  • Chris Cole, Director of Drone Wars UK
  • Ella Knight, campaigner at Amnesty International
  • Rachel Stohl, Vice President at the Stimson Center
  • Elke Schwarz, Lecturer in Political Theory at Queen Mary’s, University of London

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A Joint Enterprise: How the UK and the US co-operate on drone warfare

6 June 2020 — Drone Warfare

Peter Burt

Click to open

A new report published today by Drone Wars UK investigates the co-operation between the UK and the US in relation to armed drone operations. While the UK insist its armed drone programme is separate and independent to that of the US, our report, ‘Joint Enterprise: An overview of US-UK co-operation on armed drone operations’, argues that close historic ties, shared use of infrastructure and tightly integrated operations show that that the two programmes amount to a joint enterprise, with arguably joint liability.

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Drone Wars at Ten #3: What’s next? A peek at the future

5 June 2020 — Drone Wars

Chris Cole

In this final post to mark our 10th birthday, I want to peer a little into the future, looking at what we are facing in relation to drone warfare in the coming years. Of course predicting the future is always a little foolish – perhaps especially so in the middle of a global pandemic – but four areas of work are already fairly clear: public accountability over the deployment of armed drones; the push to open UK skies to military drones;  monitoring the horizontal and vertical proliferation of military drones and opposing the development of lethal autonomous weapons, aka ‘killer robots’.
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