Posts Tagged ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’

Unmanned “drone” technology is vital, which is why we should be open about it

11/12/2012, 02:36:30 PM

by Kevan Jones

UK defence policy must aim to meet key objectives when making decisions over military equipment and its deployment: maximising strategic advantage over our enemy; protecting UK service personnel; minimising civilian casualties; acting at all times within humanitarian and international law; ensuring value for money; and making sure that deployment is in line with our national security interest and right to self-defence, as well as our commitment to conflict prevention and the protection of universal rights.

It is the shadow defence team’s judgement that the UK’s current position in relation to the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs” or  drones) meets these criteria, but we must continually ensure this remains the case.

For the record, it is worth outlining current UK policy on unmanned technology.

The UK is one of 76 countries who operate UAVs.  Today we deploy four drones in Afghanistan only.  One of these, the Reaper, is armed.

The benefits of unmanned technology are clear.  It can be more cost effective than manned.  UAVs provide significant intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.  They can minimise collateral damage and civilian casualty through precision.  They limit danger to UK personnel by reducing the number of personnel in theatre.  By providing greater speed and height than conventional aircraft UAVs can hugely improve an equipment programme that today must prioritise adaptability and agility.

There are of course weaknesses, for example costs may rise, but while unmanned technology is no silver bullet they will be an increasingly predominant feature of UK defence, supporting all three services.


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