15 June 2020 — Drone Wars
- In this special Long Read, guest writer Samuel Brownsword lays out the rise of Turkey as a drone superpower, as well as its increasing use of armed drones, both within and without its borders.
6 June 2020 — Drone Warfare
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.
5 June 2020 — Drone Wars
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’.
3 June 2020 — Drone Wars
We were excluded from our 2017 Information Tribunal when it went into closed session
A key aspect of our work over the past decade has been to challenge the secrecy that surround the use of armed drones. The Pentagon and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) insist that many aspects of these operations must remain secret in order to protect lives and national security. And in some cases, that is no doubt true. However, it is also without question that some of the secrecy that surrounds the use of drones is to enable these systems to be used without awkward and difficult questions being asked by parliamentarians, press and the public.
1 June 2020 – Drone Wars
Rather unbelievably, Drone Wars UK is ten years old this week. Although I had been researching and writing about drone warfare earlier, Drone Wars UK as a blog, an organisation, an entity came into being on 1st June 2010. In the decade since, the use of armed drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles – or ‘remotely piloted air systems’ as we are pressed by some to call them – has (ahem) taken off. As we and many others feared and predicted, the use of these systems has become virtually normalised and are spreading across the globe, and yet this is still only, I would suggest, the beginning of the drone war era.
1 May 2020 — Drone Wars
Behind the scenes, the UK is developing a range of military autonomous systems. Image: Crown Copyright
In November 2018 Drone Wars UK published ‘Off The Leash’, an in-depth research report outlining how the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was actively supporting research into technology to support the development of armed autonomous drones despite the government’s public claims that it “does not possess fully autonomous weapons and has no intention of developing them”. This article provides an update on developments which have taken place in this field since our report was published, looking both at specific technology projects as well as developments on the UK’s policy position on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS).
2 March 2020 — Drone Wars
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed in response to an FoI request from Drone Wars UK that British Reaper drones are undertaking missions outside of Operation Shader, the UK’s military operation against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The MoD has refused to say how many ‘non-Shader’ sorties there have been, or where they are taking place.
18 February 2020 — Drone Wars
Arthur Holland Michel, author of ‘Eyes In The Sky’, is one of the co-founders of the Centre for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York State. The Centre for the Study of the Drone has done extraordinary work in monitoring the spread in the use of drones, including publication of ‘The Drone Databook’, a detailed country-by-county study of military drone capabilities; a comprehensive study of counter-drone systems; and a weekly round-up of news and developments in the world of drones.
19 January 2020 — Drone Wars
Our new report looks at UK involvement in drone targeted killing and in particular at media coverage of British citizens killed in such strikes. It argues that the government’s refusal to discuss key details or policy issues around these operations has helped to curtail coverage, creating a climate where targeted killing has become normalised and accepted, eroding human rights norms.
The ruling Establishment has learnt a profound lesson from the debacle over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. The lesson they have learnt is not that it is wrong to attack and destroy an entire country on the basis of lies. They have not learnt that lesson despite the fact the western powers are now busily attacking the Iraqi Shia majority government they themselves installed, for the crime of being a Shia majority government.
3 December 2019 — Drone Wars
November 2019 saw seven civilian casualties incidents from drone strikes in four different war-zones illustrating the growing spread of drone warfare. The seven strikes between them are thought to have killed 41 civilians including 11 children.
Proponents of the use of armed drones often argue that drones are better at warfare as they can sit above the ‘fog and friction’ of war and therefore limit the harm to civilians as they have a better view of the ground. The reality, however, is that drones appear to be transferring the risk of warfare away from combatants onto the shoulders of civilians.