EFAD-member Drone Wars UK has published an intriguing interview with a retired Royal Air Force officer who served as Deputy Commander Operations. In this interview, Air Marshall Greg Bagwell discussed many different aspects of the UK’s use of Reapers, including the recruitment of pilots, Rules of Engagement, close cooperation with the United States, and the killing of British citizen Reyaad Khan.
For instance, after mentioning that non-pilots had undergone training for flying Reapers, Bagwell stated that “..the generation that have grown up playing PlayStation have become very adept at thinking in three-dimension, managing systems and networks, very dextrous use of controls, and we need to think about whether that is something we can exploit.”
On the issue of drone pilots from different militaries swapping the control of a single drone in order to leverage the differences in Rules of Engagement, Bagwell argued that the principles stayed the same: If “..there is a RoE issue, what will happen is that your aircraft will be moved off and another’s will be brought in. Now obviously in an unmanned system you can do that by just changing who is in the chair. It’s not quite that simple, but the principle is exactly the same.”
Moreover, commenting on the UK’s use of drones in Iraq even after the announced defeat of ISIS, Bagwell stated that: “.. I think it’s the nature of the beast. What we have now is a surveillance capability that will always be in demand, will always be employed to the maximum.”
Importantly, the former RAF Commander also openly discussed the effectiveness of drone-strikes in combating terrorism, and the denial by the Ministry of Defense of creating civilian casualties during UK strikes in Syria and Iraq.
The entire interview can be found at Drone Wars UK, and is well worth a read for anyone wanting to increase their understanding of the UK’s use of armed drones.