RAF Drones Operated From UK Base Strike Afghanistan For First Time

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REAPER DRONE
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The RAF has carried out its first drone strike from an aircraft operated out of a base in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The RAF has operated armed drones for some times, however until earlier this week they were piloted remotely from an air base in the United States.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "A Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), operated by pilots from XIII Squadron located at RAF Waddington, has fired a weapon during a mission supporting UK forces on the ground in Afghanistan."

Further details were not available as the MoD does not discuss details of specific missions for operational security reasons. The strike reported to have taken place on Tuesday is the first time a drone flown from a UK base has fired its weapons.

The hi-tech Reaper drones are primarily used to gather intelligence on enemy activity on the ground, but they also carry 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles for precision strikes on insurgents.

Members of the Stop The War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want marched from Lincoln to the nearby RAF Waddington base over the weekend.

The organisers of the protest march and rally claim drones make it easier for politicians to launch military interventions, and have increased civilian casualties.

Hilary Stauffer, the deputy director of Reprieve, said the European Union needed to develop a "coordinated, coherent position on the use" of drones in armed conflict.

Writing on The Huffington Post UK, Stauffer said: "The EU needs to be an ethical, moral, and legal counterbalance to the United States regarding the use of armed drones, and to play a leading role in developing the international standards which are emerging to govern their use."

Amid concerns about the number of civilians killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere, Stauffer said Europe needs to present a "united front in pushing back against this encroachment on dearly-held international legal principles" by the Obama administration.

However the MoD says the Reaper plays a vital role supporting military operations in Afghanistan and helps to save the lives of British forces, allies and those of Afghan civilians.

The RAF also stresses UK forces operate in accordance with International Humanitarian Law and that every effort is made to ensure harm to civilians or damage to their property is minimised.

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