Conflict & Justice

Armed drones flown remotely from Britain air bases prompt protests


A Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft is pictured at the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire, southern England, on July 22, 2010. Amid the rush to buy commercial planes at the Farnborough airshow this week, aerospace companies showed off the latest drones set to play a growing role in combat.


Ben Stansall

Britain's Ministry of Defense has admitted to flying armed drones remotely from the UK, prompting protests at the Royal Air Force Base of Waddington, Lincolnshire. 

The drones, which operate over Afghanistan, are mostly used for surveillance, but could be armed if necessary. 

Until this week, the RAF was piloting its drones from the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, but has moved operations to Britain to take advantage of having shifts in multiple time zones, according to the Daily Mail

The admission has prompted activists from organizations like Stop The War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want to march at Waddington Saturday afternoon in what is reportedly the first nationwide protest of Britain's drone use. 

The protesters believe that the unmanned drones make it too easy to launch deadly attacks. But the RAF counters that the Reaper drones "adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement," the Associated Press reported

"Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians' decisions to launch military strikes and order extrajudicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public," War on Want senior campaigns officer Rafeef Ziadah told the Daily Mail. 

"Now is the time to ban killer drones, before it is too late."

More from GlobalPost: UK brings drone command operations home from US

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