This roundup, curated by ReThink Media, looks at how the media is talking about drone warfare (and related topics) and what stories are being told.
With little transparency from governments on this topic, this roundup aims to be as comprehensive as possible, identifying breaking news, trends, developing stories, or interesting narratives. Rethink Media also use media coverage to compile a snapshot of strikes each week. The short version can be read here.
A Pentagon report on Thursday harshly criticized a $174 million American drone program that was meant to give Afghan forces an advantage over the Taliban but has instead shown few gains. The report cited delays and a lack of oversight or clear metrics for success for the program, known as ScanEagle. The report found several issues plaguing the program, including inadequate training for Afghan forces, who displayed an “inability to account for ScanEagle equipment” and failed to exploit the intelligence gathered by the drones for military missions. The Afghan military was unable to account for 27 of the 87 soldiers certified to operate the ScanEagle drones, according to the report. And of the 60 soldiers assigned to operate the ScanEagles at sites around the country, an average of 17 were absent “because of sickness, annual leave or unknown reasons,” the report said. [NYT / Thomas Gibbons-Neff ]
Yemeni Houthi forces hit a large oil facility in the southern Saudi Arabian city of Jizan in drone and missile attacks, a Houthi military spokesman said on Monday. The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis said earlier it had intercepted and destroyed four missiles and six explosive drones fired by the Houthis over the border towards Saudi Arabia. But there was no Saudi confirmation of where they were intercepted or whether anything was hit. [Reuters]
Iran’s military is reconstructing the RQ-4A Global Hawk drone it shot down last year. The drone is being reassembled from recovered parts but will never fly. This is partly a propaganda exercise, and partly about intelligence gathering on the Global Hawk’s capabilities. However, the main aim is likely to be providing Iran’s burgeoning drone industry with the information to build a Frankenstein-like clone from the remains [Popular Mechanics / Kyle Mizokami] [Forbes / David Hambling]
San Diego-based General Atomics will build three Protector drones for Britain in an $81 million deal, the British Ministry of Defense announced. The aircraft will be deployed in intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance missions, replacing Britain’s current fleet of Reaper drones. [UPI / Ed Adamczyk]
At least 16 people have been reported killed in the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with drones being one of the main weapons. Azerbaijan denies Armenian claims to have shot down no less than 13 of their unmanned aircraft. Armenian officials claim that Azerbaijani drones attacked civilian targets in the town of Berd. Fighting now appears to have paused but the situation is tense. In Azerbaijan, thousands of protesters took to the streets to support retaking Nagorno-Karabakh by military force. [Forbes / David Hambling]