by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Oct 16, 2014
Britain will shortly begin re-deploying its unmanned armed drones from Afghanistan to counter Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told parliament on Thursday.
The remotely-piloted Reaper aircraft will provide surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence support to the Iraqi troops and international coalition forces taking on the IS group in northern Iraq.
The drones can also launch bombs and missiles.
It will be the first time Britain has deployed Reapers outside Afghanistan, where Britain is completing a pull-out of combat troops this year.
"We are in the process of re-deploying some of our Reaper remotely-piloted aircraft from Afghanistan to the Middle East," Hammond said.
Britain already has eight Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado fighter jets conducting bombing raids on Islamic State targets in Iraq.
"Approximately 20-30 percent of Iraq's populated territory could be under ISIL control. Liberating this territory from ISIL is a medium term challenge, to be measured in months and years, not days and weeks," Hammond said.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "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.
"If strike operations are required then Reaper has the ability to complement the sorties RAF Tornados have already completed."
The US-made Reapers are normally armed with two Paveway laser-guided bombs and four Hellfire missiles for precision strikes.
The Ministry of Defence also said a small group of British infantry have completed a week training the Kurdish forces fighting extremists in using the heavy machine guns Britain gave them last month.
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.|