> our title:

MoD Releases Briefings on Reaper, Watchkeeper UAVs

> original title:

UK MoD Release Presentations on Reaper and Watchkeeper Drones to Drone Wars Blog Under FoI

(Source: Drone Wars blog; issued Oct. 13, 2011)

Following a request under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, the UK Ministry of Defence has released presentation on UK drone operations to the Drone Wars UK blog.

The presentations were delivered at a recent symposium for the defence industry organised by the UK MoD’s Air Warfare Centre at the Shrivenham Defence Academy.

The presentation on the Reaper drone, entitled ‘RAF Reaper MALE RPAS [‘Medium Altitude Long Endurance Remotely Piloted Air System] Capability /Lessons’ covers the armed capability of Reaper; the ‘Reaper Roadmap’ as well as lessons identified from recent operations in Afghanistan.

The briefing on Watchkeeper entitled ‘Watchkeeper and Land Forces Operational UAS’ is more technical and focuses on how Watchkeeper will fit in with other smaller drones such as the Desert Hawk and T-Hawk. Amongst new information in the presentations are:

• From mid-2012 there will be 44 RAF crews operating UK Reapers with three UK Reapers constantly in the air above Afghanistan
• There have now been over 190 drone strikes in Afghanistan by British Reaper crews
• Hellfire missiles are three times more likely to be uses than the 500lb bomb
• If “lower yield weapons” had been available more strikes would have been undertaken
• Reaper “mishaps” (i.e. crashes) happen approximately every 10,000 hours of flying
• While early test flights of Watchkeeper took place in Israel, there have now been 230 Watchkeeper test flights in the UK

Chris Cole who runs the Drone Wars blog and made the FoI request said “It is very important that there is more information about the growing use of unmanned drones in the public domain. We hope the release of these presentations signals that the MoD now accepts the need for greater openness about drones and UK drone operations.”

Both presentations are now available on the Drone Wars UK blog at www.dronewars.net