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March against unmanned military aircraft heads for Lincoln

By AlexColman  |  Posted: October 13, 2012

An Air Force MQ-9A Reaper.

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A peace walk against the use of drones in Afghanistan will end in Lincoln today, after travelling across the East Midlands.

The walk began from the site of UK Drone manufacture, UAV Engines in Shenstone, Staffordshire and has travelled almost 100 miles over 8 days.

Protesters are heading for RAF Waddington, as the airbase will be used to remotely control British drones in Afghanistan, which were previously controlled from a base in Nevada in America.

Numbers have varied throughout the week as people join the peace walk for days or just hours at a time.

During their journey the walkers have been sleeping in Methodist Churches or staying with members of the public who have agreed to shelter them.

The Campaign for Military Disarmament are behind the action, coinciding with the Drones Week of Action, including a march of thousands in Pakistan agains US drone strikes.

The aircraft – remotely controlled by pilots on the ground – are used for surveillance and armed with 500lb laser-guided bombs and Hellfire missiles.

Crews from 39 Squadron, which has its headquarters at RAF Waddington, have been piloting drones from a base in Nevada, USA, for several years.

No 13 (Reaper) Squadron is expected to become operational at the base in November this year, which means the planes will be controlled from the UK for the first time.

Ministry of Defence spokesman Suzanna Brookner said: "The MoD only operates its unmanned aircraft in Afghanistan to support UK and coalition forces.

"Reaper is the only remotely piloted aircraft that is armed.

"The vast majority of unmanned aircraft flying is surveillance and reconnaissance in support of our front-line troops."

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  • eatmygoal  |  October 17 2012, 3:32PM

    Hi Pete, cheers for the consider apraisal, and insults to boot. Collateral is taken as a percentage of total killed and how many are innocent. The figures I gave were actually in praise of drones. The work done on this was by Avery Plaw who was building a case in favour of drones. Ironic though talking about missing the target, I was saying that the accuracy is an issue because it makes the use more likely than propper process. If the US has sent a Drone over for Gary McKinnon they wouldn't have had to bother with due process. And there is the term about terrorists, is a hacker to be considered one or not? and further to "Terms such as Terrorist, and enemy combatant are not vague, they have legitimate meaning under the Laws of Armed Conflict", yes but it is who they are applied to, such as whole groups of men from certain areas.

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  • Vexxed  |  October 17 2012, 12:51PM

    I really don't see the problem here, they are still flown by some of the best pilots in the world, the only difference is that there is no pressure from G-force and the drone is flown in a relaxed calm environment which can only ensure less chance of human error. Unfortunately the press has blinkered the view of these drones but that is their job - to sell papers. But these people demonstrated against our nuclear weapons, disregarding the fact that yet again the Vulcan flying about ready to fire at either the USA or the USSR as a deterrent stopped the cold war which would have effectively ended most of the human life on this planet. It was US, yet again that stopped it. Both sides admitted that, yet people classed them as nasty evil weapons. Of course they are. But they are there as a deterrent and if removed, we could never prevent another cold war. Now despite the press spewing propaganda from every pore, the truth is that the people (not the insurgents) love the British troops. They love them because of what they were doing for them. The Iraqi people did not want the British troops to leave. They don't trust the Americans. The Afghan people (again the PEOPLE) do not want out troops to leave, Their opinion is what counts. Injecting the British Training of analyse the threat and safety of civilians is what the PEOPLE of both these countries want. I was an avid supporter of Osama Bin Laden. Why? because he was doing exactly what we are doing now. He was a constant thorn in Sadaam Hussein and his administration's side. Because he disagreed as we do of how the Baath party treated abused and murdered it's citizens. A lot of people believe now, that 911 was a deliberate strike to force the US and the UN into direct action against the insurgents from both the Baath party and the Taliban. He did in fact campaign for years to stop the sanctions and enforce military action. If this is true, then it certainly worked. It also enforces the rumour that he was shot before the navy seals got to him. So is war wrong? yes. War is a failure to come to an agreement without bloodshed. But we are talking about an organisation that thinks NOTHING of shooting a 14 year old girl for wanting to go to school or wiping out entire bloodlines of families for simply daring to disagree with the administration. War is wrong. Turning our backs on people that need our help is far worse. Sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture. Peace would be fantastic and indeed, some branches of the Taliban particularly in Afghanistan have been successfully negotiated with and not a single weapon fired. The British again, of course. On many occasions a simple show of force has been sufficient for the insurgents to run, and then we destroy their weapons without a single casualty. But we don't hear that in the news, it doesn't get ratings or sell papers.

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  • Pete_Lincoln  |  October 17 2012, 12:10PM

    Eatmygoal – where on earth did you get 4% and 40% and 80% collateral damage from? What utter rubbish. Collateral damage is not a percentile as the risk depends on so many things (weapon type, size, target type, construction, location, soil type, weapon fuzing etc etc). In addition, what is it a percentage of? Think about it – it is a meaningless number designed to give legitimacy to a fallacious argument. The decision making process for an unmanned air systems (not a 'drones') is as stringent as it is for manned aircraft. Targeting is not made up on the hoof, neither are weapons expended because of 'alleged' terrorist activity. Terms such as Terrorist, and enemy combatant are not vague, they have legitimate meaning under the Laws of Armed Conflict. Your 'contingent threat' title is as fictitious as your collateral damage percentages. Your depiction of UAS operations is as far from reality as it is possible to get. I suggest learning something about your subject from people that know what they are talking about, rather than listen to the tinfoil hat brigade.

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  • nigelsparky  |  October 16 2012, 7:23PM

    So eatmygoal having read your last post, it appears it's not the drone itself that you have the problem with, as to more of who or what the target is really. Weapons of war, have, and will become more efficient as technology progresses. These drones, from what I can gather, are just a vehicle that deliver the weapon, just like any other military aircraft, except the pilot is not on board the drone. Nothing new about this concept either, as Hitler unleashed a far more primitive version to the drone, back in the second world war. It was known as the V1 flying bomb, or doodlebug.

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  • eatmygoal  |  October 16 2012, 5:36PM

    "So im well up for this if it means we take less terror suspects into custody" Indeed, if only America had sent a drone for Christopher Tappin while he was still down in Kent rather than going to the expense of taking him over to Texas. True it was not terroism, but being suspected of supplying Iran with weapons is just as naughty.

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  • eatmygoal  |  October 16 2012, 5:26PM

    For me it is the accuracy that is the problem. The impressive accuracy in drone targeting may people to become lax in their moral decision-making about who exactly should be targeted, the terms terrorist, enemy combatant, and contingent threat are vague. While they are better at hitting a target than hitting something else, is the target actually legitimate? A suspected terrorist might be deemed to be an acceptable target, but he is only suspected. As I say, groups fighting age men can be judge to be acceptable targets. So the drones accurately kill the target, but that does not mean the target is right? The use of drones, in my view, means people are more likely to an issue an attack as it is less involved than physically sending a person to the target with all the risks associated with that. Also while it might only kill a few people at a time, this could be worse. A one of Cologne style blast would be condemed in an instant. A 1000 drone attacks might tally up the same casualty rate but wouldn't have the same impact. The efficiency of drones is likely to lead to their more increasing use and so more innocent casulaties.

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  • Roadscource  |  October 16 2012, 5:12PM

    "Hundreds of suspected terrorists have been killed under President Obama and just one taken into custody" We had one in custody in England, Captain Hook i think, and weve only just got rid of him to the USA after wasting millions of pounds of UK cash fighting legal battles that he was well clued up on. So im well up for this if it means we take less terror suspects into custody.

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  • nigelsparky  |  October 16 2012, 5:01PM

    I think what I 'm having trouble understanding here is, the nett result is the same isn't it. So why focus the attention on this form of weapon as opposed to say launching a missile in wherever from wherever.

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  • M_C_Donald  |  October 16 2012, 4:41PM

    I can't see what the difference is between a manned aircraft and an unmanned one other than the 'pilot' of the unmanned can be thousands of miles away. The targeting systems are the same and the decision making processes are the same, the weapons used are the same. Very rarely nowadays are targets acquired using the mk1 eyeball; inferred/image intensifying/targeting cameras are used, targets are designated and then tracked by computer before the 'fire' button is pressed. Because drones have an extended loiter time and the 'pilot' is under less pressure better and more inform decisions can be made before committing to the kill.

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  • eatmygoal  |  October 16 2012, 4:24PM

    One of the functions of drones is for targetting suspects, yes. True on harbouring terrosist here, a drone targetting a suspect in a residential part of Britain might change some people's perception of how acceptable their use is.

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