1 October 2011News

Drone Wars UK's Chris Coles examines the latest wranglings surrounding the planned Anglo-French drone.

Over the summer, the inaugural “UK-France Industry Day” was held in central London. Although innocent sounding, this was the first meeting between the UK and French military industry following the signing of a new “defence” treaty last November. A key element of this new military co-operation between France and the UK is the proposed development of a new combat drone. While it is still at the preliminary stage, BAE Systems’ decision to tie up with French firm Dassault to jointly offer the “…

1 October 2011News in Brief

On 31 August, the New Zealand high court imposed £600,000 in damages and costs on three peace activists who punctured a dome at a US national security agency base at Waihopai in New Zealand on 30 April 2008. The Waihopai Ploughshares (Sam Land, Adrian Leason and Peter Murnane), who carried out their action in protest at the role of the base in the US-led “war on terror”, were acquitted by a jury on 17 March 2010 (see PN 2520). (The government plans to restrict the use of the “right of claim…

1 September 2011News

160 children killed in Pakistan

Drones may be “the perfect weapons for a war weary nation on a tight budget” as one journalist wrote recently, but reported civilian casualties from drone strikes continue to rise. For the first time the British ministry of defence (MoD) has admitted that one of its drone strikes killed Afghan civilians in March 2011. The deaths of the unnamed Afghans was revealed by an anonymous correspondent from the UK’s permanent joint headquarters (PJHQ) at RAF Northwood in reply to one of my Freedom of…

1 September 2011News

Ian Pocock looks at the actions planned for this years DSEi arms fair.

Over 1,200 arms companies will attend the world’s largest arms fair this September to hawk their deadly wares to 25,000 buyers from around the world. The Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition is taking place from 13-16 September at the ExCeL centre in east London.

DSEi is organised by Clarion Events (who also run family-friendly events such as the Baby Show) and by the government’s UK Trade and Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO).

1 September 2011News

Military training protested on "Armed Forces Day".

On 26 June, about 100 people went on a pilgrimage to the military training ground on Epynt mountain in mid-Wales. On “Armed Forces Day” they showed their objection to the militarisation of Wales and in particular to the testing of unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs or drones.

A service was held in the remains of Babell chapel led by the reverend Guto Prys ap Gwynfor, chair of Cymdeithas y Cymod (the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales). He said that the authorities wanted us to remember…

1 September 2011News in Brief

On 26 July, 170 peace activists from 17 countries entered the “North European Aerospace Test Range” (NEAT) in north Sweden in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience. Some 28 activists were arrested or detained, among them activists from Venezuela, the UK, Spain, Germany and Finland. The action started at midday with a pink carnival which involved people marking the test range and the road leading to it with pink arrows and the slogan “War starts here, let’s stop it here!”. The airspace was…

13 August 2011Feature

The second part of a PN investigation

As we saw in the last issue, drones are the hot new weapons of the 21st century. While drones have been around for decades, mostly as small, short-range and unreliable surveillance planes, a convergence of technological factors in the last decade have taken them to the forefront of the arms race.

With the rapid emergence of sophisticated drones in the last few years, Britain was caught flat-footed without a capable domestic drone system. The response was two-fold. Firstly,…

13 August 2011Feature

The first of two articles on the rapidly-expanding use of military drone aircraft

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are aircraft either controlled by “pilots” from the ground or, increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. While there are dozens of different types of drones, they basically fall into two categories: those that are used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes; and those that are armed with missiles and bombs.

The use of drones has grown quickly in recent years because unlike piloted aircraft they can…

1 July 2011News

Libya bombed by drones as activists call week of action against unmanned warfare.

Over the past month Libya has been added to the list of countries subjected to drone strikes by US and British forces, joining Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq. Unfortunately, the list of countries facing these kind of remote attacks is only likely to grow as US military procurement plans, released this month, show that the Pentagon is planning to double its arsenal of large military drones over the next decade.

In Pakistan, anger at the continuing CIA drone strikes continues to…

1 June 2011News

US drones continue to target Pakistan, despite opposition

On 13 May, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced it is forming a second RAF drones squadron to be based at RAF Waddington, Lincs. RAF pilots will then control the UK’s armed Reaper drones that fly in Afghanistan from Waddington rather than the Creech US air force (USAF) base in Nevada. Defence secretary, Liam Fox noted that this followed the doubling of the UK’s Reaper capability to ten aircraft, an increased investment of £135m in drone warfare.

A recent article by two senior MoD…

1 June 2011News

On 23 April, thousands of Pakistanis, “led” by ex-cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan blocked the Khyber pass, the route for 70% of supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The sit-down protest, which closed the route for two days, was against US drone strikes in north-west Pakistan, and was organised by Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf party, with the support of other opposition and Islamist groups as well as tribal elders. It came a day after two drones were reported to have killed 25 people, including women and children in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Khan has demanded that drone strikes end by June, threatening a permanent closure of the Khyber pass and…

1 May 2011News

PN examines a new MoD report on the growing use of armed drones

At the end of March, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) published a 100-page document to “inform and prompt wider debate” on the use of military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones. The UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems examines technological and scientific issues related to current and future use of armed and unarmed drones and also sets out, for the first time, what the MoD sees as the legal, moral and ethical issues that arise from using such systems. The document…

3 May 2010News

Aberystwyth Peace and Justice Network got the election ball rolling in March, organising a peace and justice hustings in the Morlan Centre.

Prospective parliamentary candidates Mark Williams (Lib Dem), Penri James (Plaid Cymru), Richard Boudier (Labour) and Luke Evetts (Conservative) turned up for a grilling from the audience. Typically, the Labour and Conservative candidates, who stand no chance of winning the seat, were politically-inexperienced young men.


1 May 2010News

The MoD Watchkeeper drone programme is beginning trials at ParcAberporth using the Israeli-built Hermes 450 UAV (“Unmanned Arial Vehicle”). Watchkeeper is not about agricultural and environmental monitoring, oceanographic and atmospheric data collection or grassland management, it is about “intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition”.

Which, in plain English, means locating people and killing them.

So I’m not going to waste your time moaning…