U.K. drone missiles dominate in Afghanistan

British-piloted drones carried out over one in five strikes in Afghanistan, more likely to fire missiles than U.S.

By Natasha Lennard
September 6, 2013 9:00PM (UTC)
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While the CIA oversees shadow drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, and the U.S. military is responsible for the drone program in Afghanistan, new analysis released Friday from the U.K.'s Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals that in Afghanistan one in five drone strikes is operated by a British pilot and British drones are in fact three times more likely to fire missiles in the beleaguered country than U.S. drones.

A release from the BIJ noted:


Yesterday [U.K.] defense minister Andrew Robathan announced that the UK has carried out 299 drone strikes in Afghanistan. This is the first time the UK government has announced the total number of strikes. The figures he released show that UK-piloted drone strikes have increased sixfold, from 14 strikes in 2008 to 92 in 2012.

Last year the US Air Force provided data to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism detailing International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) drone operations dating back to 2008.

The Bureau has been able to analyze the two datasets for the years 2008-2011 (the US Air Force's data only covered until October 31 2012). This reveals that British-piloted drones are significantly more likely to fire missiles on each sortie than US drones. UK pilots fired one or more missiles on 7 percent of sorties, while US drones fired missiles on 2 percent of sorties.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Afghanistan Bureau Of Investigative Journalism Drone Strikes Drone Wars Drones Missiles U.k. U.s. Military