LONDON (20 September 2013) – A major new study from Open Briefing, Remote Control War, reveals that more than 200 different unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are in use or in development by China, India, Iran, Israel, Russia and Turkey, with 29 of these being unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs), otherwise known as armed drones.
The authors, Rob O’Gorman and Chris Abbott, have identified key developments in drone technology and conclude that the lines between missiles and drones at one end and drones and aircraft at the other are increasingly blurred. Furthermore, several countries are seeking to develop a range of UAV countermeasures in response to the proliferation of drones to state and non-state adversaries.
Military planners face numerous challenges with the rise of armed drones. Chief among them, O’Gorman argues, ‘is the development of sound operational doctrine in order to successfully integrate these systems’ capabilities.’ The speed and extent of UCAV developments is ‘far surpassing the imaginations of military planners.’
Abbott, Executive Director of Open Briefing, noted that ‘armed drones are being used for missions that would not likely be approved if more traditional aircraft systems were being used,’ adding that ‘the use of remotely-piloted systems has sidestepped international law.’ Abbott argued, ‘The use of armed drones is viewed as a grey area when, in fact, no such ambiguity really exists. They are weapons platforms. The usual rules should apply.’
Chris Cole, the founder of Drone Wars UK, said, ‘Open Briefing’s Remote Control War shines a much needed spotlight on the development and use of drones by a raft of countries beyond the usual suspects and shows that the development of armed drones is spreading rapidly.’
Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, said, ‘Armed drones may have become weapons of choice for the United States and Britain but what this report shows is that they are already proliferating across the world. The implications of this are huge for international security but have been almost entirely ignored so far.’
The report was commissioned by the Remote Control Project, a pilot project initiated by the Network for Social Change and hosted by Oxford Research Group.
In a world where a few nations take upon their own hands the decision of who lives and who dies in the war against terrorism, the question remains. What is stopping developing countries from also flying armed drones and attacking other nations? Or perhaps defending themselves from attacks from the nations who take the task of killing people without the need of a trial.
While many different views exist in the world about the use of drones, a neighboring country of the United States, Mexico, has stopped the US surveillance drones used to hunt down drug cartel kingpins and mainly because of the fear from politicians that the US was beginning to encroach into Mexico's sovereignty.
The report opens for discussion the ramifications of what a country can do with the use of drones and challenges the minds of many not only in the academic world but in the intelligence communities where decisions are launched.
If a dictator or a police chief commits a extrajudicial killing for whatever reason, the person is thrown into jail for life or receives a death sentence. Guatemala for example has seen an increase of extrajudicial killings in about 50% according to CALDH, but there is nothing that addresses the extrajudicial executions by use of a remote airplane. Perhaps it is time to include these killings in a bigger picture of human rights and justice.
The report is a wake up call to the entire world. Now the right people must read the report and that I hope can lead to another kind of conversation, while the killings continue.
Open Briefing is the world’s first civil society intelligence agency. Staffed by a team of intelligence, military, law enforcement, government and media professionals, they provide a range of intelligence and research services to concerned citizens and non-governmental organizations. To find out more, please visit www.openbriefing.org.