Britain’s Royal Air Force opened its doors to Waddington, the U.K.’s drone headquarters, to journalists yesterday. Set in Lincolnshire, Waddington houses 13 Squadron, which pilots five Afghan-deployed Reapers.
According to the BBC, “The RAF is keen to challenge any impression that this is like some kind of hi-tech video game. The crew speak of their professionalism. They all learned to fly in the air first and insist that operating the Reaper is not that different.”
The report also contains footage of the “Black Hornet” nano drone in action.
Figures released by the MoD reveal that there have been 459 strikes by British-operated Reapers in Afghanistan. The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, visited RAF Waddington, saying he wanted to “demystify” drones. “Any new technology,” he maintained, “is bound to raise concerns. People should have no greater concern about the deployment of RPAS than they would, for example, have with a Tornado [plane].”
The debate comes among discussion of personnel reductions across the U.S. military. General Sir Nick Houghton, chief of the defence staff, claimed “Unattended, our current course leads to a strategically incoherent force structure: exquisite equipment, but insufficient resources to man that equipment or train on it.”He added that the UK’s forces were “”too platform-focused”.
Or, in other words, too many weapons and robots, not enough human beings.