20 September 2013
New Report Lifts the Lid on the Development and Spread of Armed Drones Around the World
By Joshua Foust, Defense One
National Journal


A MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission.
Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Paul Ridgeway

The Remote Control Project, a pilot project of the Network for Social Change, hosted by Oxford Research Group (ORG), commissioned a major new study from Open Briefing on Remote Control war.

The report, 'Remote Control War', reveals that more than 200 different unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are in use or in development by China, India, Iran, Israel, Russia and Turkey, with 29 of these being unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs), otherwise known as armed drones.

The authors, Rob O’Gorman and Chris Abbott (former Manager of ORG's Sustainable Security Programme), have identified key developments in drone technology and conclude that the lines between missiles and drones at one end and drones and aircraft at the other are increasingly blurred. Furthermore, several countries are seeking to develop a range of UAV countermeasures in response to the proliferation of drones to state and non-state adversaries.

Military planners face numerous challenges with the rise of armed drones. Chief among them, O’Gorman argues,

"is the development of sound operational doctrine in order to successfully integrate these systems’ capabilities.’ The speed and extent of UCAV developments is ‘far surpassing the imaginations of military planners."

Abbott, Executive Director of Open Briefing, noted that:

"Armed drones are being used for missions that would not likely be approved if more traditional aircraft systems were being used. The use of remotely-piloted systems has sidestepped international law. The use of armed drones is viewed as a grey area when, in fact, no such ambiguity really exists. They are weapons platforms. The usual rules should apply."

ORGs Global Security Consultant and Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University, Paul Rogers, comments:

"Armed drones may have become weapons of choice for the United States and Britain, but what this report shows is that they are already proliferating across the world. The implications of this are huge for international security but have been almost entirely ignored so far."

Global Network