End the Secrecy

Lift the Veil: End the secrecy surrounding the use of British drones

There are many serious questions about the growing use of drones:

  • Does the geographic and psychological distance between the operator and target make attacks more likely?
  • Does using unmanned systems mean attacks will happen more often?
  • Does the supposed accuracy of drone sensors and cameras mean that commanders are more willing to undertake ‘riskier’ strikes (in terms of possible civilian casualties) than they would previously have undertaken?

All of these questions, and many more, need to be debated openly and honestly, requiring careful analysis and judgement based on evidence. Unfortunately, that evidence is being kept under wraps. While it may be necessary to keep some information secret, we do not believe it is appropriate or legitimate to refuse to disclose any and all information about the circumstances of the use of Reapers over the past four years. There is, at the very least, a sense that public discussion is being stifled.

With the use of armed drones set to increase, we need a serious, public – and fully informed – debate on all these issues.


To sign the online petition calling on David Cameron to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding UK drone strikes please click here.   

You can also download a hardcopy of the petition to get friends and family to sign here.


Please choose one or two of the following questions about the UK’s use of armed drones and write to your local MP asking them to forward your letter to the Prime Minister for answers.  Please do let you have a copy of any response.  

  • Please can you list the (approximate) date of each weapon launch from UK drones, the location and reason for strike.
  •  How does the UK confirm that targets for drone strikes are not civilians? In other words what criteria is used to identify a target as a combatant?  
  •  Can you detail the procedure for a UK drone strike under daily tasking orders?
  •  Can you detail the procedure, including legal advice, under dynamic targeting procedure ?
  •  Are there ever circumstances in which the UK carries out a strike either by UAV or manned aircraft, against an individual in Afghanistan who is not directly participating in hostilities? Can you give details?
  •  When will RAF 13 Squadron begin controlling UK Reaper drones from RAF Waddington?
  •  How many RAF personnel have been trained to operate Reaper UAVs each year since 2005? How many RAF personnel have been operating Reapers each year since 2005?
  • How many RAF personnel are expected to be trained to operate Reapers each year for the next five years? How many RAF personnel are expected to be operating RAF Reapers for each year over the next five years?
  •  What was the month and year of the in-service date of each of the RAF’s current Reaper UAVs?
  •  What is the planned in-service date (month and year) for the Reapers currently on order?
  •  Which versions of the Hellfire missile (AGM 114) have been fired from UK Reapers?
  •  Have any written reviews been undertaken by MoD staff into the use of UK Reaper UAVs in Afghanistan? Would the Prime Minster make public any such review?
  •  Does the UK reapers operate throughout Afghanistan or only in Helmand province?

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