by Richard Tomkins
London (UPI) Oct 17, 2014
Britain's Royal Air Force is deploying Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles in the fight against Islamic State forces, also known as ISIS/ISIL, who control large sections of Iraq.
The announcement was made on Thursday by Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, who said the deployment would take place shortly.
"The surveillance capability of Reaper will see it provide vital situational awareness, making it an invaluable asset to the Iraqi government and the coalition allies in helping counter the threat from ISIL and supporting our vital interests in the area.
"If strike operations are required then Reaper has the ability to complement the sorties RAF Tornados have already completed."
The MQ-9 Reaper is a medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely controlled aircraft manufactured by U.S. company General Atomics. It is used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions but can also carry weapons.
Britain has never before used the aircraft operationally outside of Afghanistan.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State in Syria, is an al-Qaida splinter organization which has declared an Islamic Caliphate. Its headquarters is believed to be in Syria. Its forces, known for their brutality, have taken over large portions of Syria and Iraq and are said to be close to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
The United States, with a handful of allies, is conducting limited airstrikes on IS gunmen. Royal Air Force tornadoes based in Cyprus have been conducting operations against IS in Northern Iraq in support of the region's besieged Kurdish people.
The announcement on the deployment of the Reaper coincides with the conclusion of the first British training program for Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
The Ministry of Defense said 40 Peshmerga have been taught how to use heavy machine guns Britain gave them last month. The Kurdish course graduates will train others on the use of the machine guns.
UAV News - Suppliers and Technology
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|