> our title:

UK MoD Clarifies Drone Operations

> original title:

British Use of Drones

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Nov. 20, 2012)

The Times reports that MPs are to open an inquiry into Britain's use of drones to kill militants in a move that could prompt the United States to reveal more about its 'secret war'.

Neither the MOD nor the RAF were contacted to discuss or balance the points made in the Times article.

The headlines 'British use of drones at heart of "secret war"' (Page 1) and 'MPs to test British use of drones at heart of secret war' (Page 8) are factually incorrect. RAF Reaper Remotely Piloted Air Systems only operate within Afghanistan and strictly adhere to the international Law of Armed Conflict. Therefore no inference or linkage to other nation's operations outside of Afghanistan can or should be made.

The vast majority of UK Reaper operations are for surveillance and reconnaissance in support of NATO front line troops, delivering vital intelligence and saving lives in Afghanistan.

On the rare occasions that weapons are released from RAF Reaper aircraft, the rules of engagement used for weapon release are no different to those used for manned combat aircraft; all UK Reaper weapons are precision-guided.

It should be noted that Reaper is not an autonomous system and the aircraft do not have the capability to employ weapons unless commanded to do so by the flight crew. UK military personnel are always involved in the decision to release a weapon.

All command decisions are, and will continue to be, based on rules of engagement which ensure adherence to the international Law of Armed Conflict.

Every effort, which includes in some circumstances deciding not to release weapons, is made to ensure the risk of collateral damage, including civilian casualties, is minimised.