Drones

1 October 2021News

US whistleblower gets 45 month sentence

On 27 July, former US air force intelligence analyst Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison by a court in Virginia, USA.

Hale, 33, had plead guilty to violating the Espionage Act by sharing government documents relating to targeted drone killings and other abuses in the ‘war on terror’.

Hale spoke in court before sentencing, saying: ‘I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenceless.’ He said he shared what ‘was necessary to dispel…

1 December 2019News in Brief

British drones are more likely to target individuals than infrastructure, according to Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK.

British Reaper drones launched two-thirds of the 110 UK strikes on Islamic State fighters in the open in the last two years. The UK’s other strike aircraft, the Tornado and the Typhoon, were generally used to launch attacks on buildings of various kinds.

Just over half of all UK Reaper attacks (51 percent) were targeted at individuals on the ground…

1 December 2019News in Brief

In September, it was revealed that the US air force (USAF) had awarded a contract to a US weapons company to develop an artificial intelligence and machine-learning surveillance system for a killer drone.

The Agile Condor system is supposed to independently (‘autonomously’) identify pre-defined targets of interest and then send information back to a human decision-maker before any action is taken.

Peter Burt of Drone Wars UK says the intended change to the Reaper killer…

1 October 2019News in Brief

In July, the MoD issued development contracts for what may be a new killer drone, carrying out air-to-air or air-to-ground strikes.

According to Drone Wars UK, the new escort drone will fly alongside or slightly ahead of an RAF plane, sharing information via the main aircraft.

Possible roles for the ‘Mosquito’ include: surveillance, electronic warfare (jamming radars) and laser guiding weapons onto targets.

In a separate programme, the MoD is developing ‘…

1 February 2019News

Arms trade protested in London and Brussels

Monique D’hooghe demonstrates in Brussels on 29 November. Photo: Vredesactie

On 23 January, there was a noisy ‘Stop arming Saudi’ protest outside an arms dealers’ dinner at the Grosvenor House hotel in central London.

There was a sit-down blockade of the hotel, as guests filed into the aerospace, defence & security group’s annual dinner. The guest of honour was former home secretary, Labour MP Alan Johnson.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: ‘Many of…

1 August 2018News in Brief

In mid-July, the planned replacement for Britain’s armed Reaper drones, the Protector, made the first crossing of the Atlantic by a medium-altitude, long endurance remotely-piloted aircraft. (The first drone to cross the Atlantic, in 1998, was on auto-pilot.)

The Protector (aka MQ−9B SkyGuardian) will be able to fly further and carry more weapons than the Reaper. It has a wingspan of 79 feet, and is due to enter service in the UK in the 2020s.

The drone took off from,…

1 June 2018News

Drones are becoming central to 21st century warfare, new report says

From an obscure technology originally used for target practice, drones have become almost central to the way in which armed forces fight wars and project power in the early 21st century.

The US and Israel played a leading role in the development and use of remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called drones. Both countries have manufactured and operated unarmed and armed systems since the early 2000s. While these two nations monopolised the field for more than a…

1 April 2018News in Brief

This March saw the fifth annual ‘Fly Kites, Not Drones’ week of action in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, with kite-flying in Aberdeen and Edinburgh in Scotland; and many events in England: at the drones base, RAF Waddington, in Lincolnshire; in Yorkshire at the spy base at Menwith Hill, and in Bradford, Harrogate and Huddersfield; in Hastings, East Sussex; and in Leicester, London and Leintwardine.

Fly Kites Not Drones is a joint effort from Voices for Creative Non-…

1 December 2017News in Brief

On 7 October, the Drones Campaign Network held a demo outside RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, which controls Britain’s armed Reaper drones, to mark 10 years of British involvement in drone warfare. www.tinyurl.com/peacenews2685

1 December 2017News in Brief

The latest Nuclear Resister records anti-drone action across the US.

On 25 September, seven members of Upstate Drone Action were arrested at Hancock air force base in New York state. Hancock operates MQ-9 Reaper armed drones overseas.

Dan Burgevin, Ed Kinane, Rae Kramer, Harry Murray, Julienne Oldfield, Mark Scibilia-Carver and Ann Tiffany were delivering a citizens’ war crime indictment when arrested.

Upstate Drone Action also blocked the main gate…

1 October 2017News

Anti-drones campaigners to stand trial on 24 November

‘Justice for the Elbit 5 — Stop Arming Israel’ demo at Aberporth test-flying site for UK-manufactured Israeli drones on 13 September. This action was in solidarity with five activists appearing before Cannock magistrates court, Staffordshire, charged under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 for their part in shutting down the Elbit drones factory in Shenstone on 6–7 July. Charges were dropped against three defendants, while the trial of the remaining two…

1 August 2016News

Human chain formed around USAF Ramstein

On a rainy day in June, police estimated that 2,000 people formed a human chain around USAF Ramstein in Germany, the headquarters of the US air force in Europe. The activists were protesting against the base’s critical role in transmitting information between operators in the United States and drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Syria.

Former US drone operator Brandon Bryant told Der Spiegel magazine in 2013 that Ramstein co-ordinated Washington’s global…

1 February 2016News

Supporters pay drone campaigners' fine

In September last year, Anna Jane Evans, Awel Irene, Angharad Tomos and Sian ap Gwynfor were convicted of criminal damage for painting ‘DIM ADAR ANGAU – NO DEATH DRONES’ on Llanbedr Airfield runway and ordered to pay £565 for cleaning the runway.

By the time of the deadline for the payment, contributions had poured in, as explained by Evans: ‘It is with great reluctance I am paying my share of what it cost to clean the runway. I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who…

1 December 2015News

Four anti-drones campaigners convicted of criminal damage

On 20 October, after two days of evidence and legal argument, a judge in Lincoln magistrates court found four anti-drone protesters (Gary ‘Eagle Spits’ Eagling, Katha Karcher, Penny Walker and myself) guilty of criminal damage.

In January 2015, we entered RAF Waddington in order to disrupt ongoing British drone operations in Iraq and Syria. We knew that our presence would trigger a security alert that would put the base on ‘lockdown’ which (in the words of an RAF witness at our…

1 December 2015Review

Verso, 2015; 368pp; £20 and Zed Books, 2015; 416pp; £16.99

We Kill Because We Can is a 300-page rant on drones by cultural critic Laurie Calhoun. Focusing on the use of drones for targeted killing, each chapter is an angry polemical essay, with titles like ‘Strike First, Suppress Questions Later’ and ‘The New Banality of Killing’.

Calhoun argues that ‘both the practise of and propensity towards institutional killing has been transformed by this new technology.’ I agree. However I also have to admit that the tone of this book –…