British pilots flew US drones in NATO mission over Libya

A Royal Air Force Reaper UAV in Afghanistan

From Alex Spillius, the Telegraph:  In a parliamentary answer, Lord Astor of Hever, under secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence, said drones belonging to the United States were operated by British pilots during the Nato operation in 2011.

Lord Bates of Langbaurgh had asked for clarification on whether or not armed British drones had been used against terror suspects outside Afghanistan.

"Her Majesty’s Government do not use armed remotely piloted air systems against terrorist suspects outside Afghanistan," replied Lord Astor. "However, UK personnel flew armed remotely piloted air systems missions against Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011, in support of the Nato humanitarian mission authorised under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973."

From Nick Hopkins, the Guardian:  The US announced last April it was deploying two patrols of armed UAVs above Libya and they launched numerous missile strikes against buildings, tanks and other military equipment being used by forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.

Between April and October the Predators conducted 145 air strikes in Libya, the Pentagon said. It is not known how many missions were flown by the British, or how many targets were destroyed by them. . . .

The MoD said it believed RAF pilots had only flown American drones over Libya, and had not done so in Afghanistan or Pakistan. The RAF has its own five-strong squadron of Reaper UAVs in Afghanistan, which are piloted by RAF personnel based in the US.

A spokesman added: "There were no and are no UK remotely piloted air systems operating outside of Afghanistan. The UK armed forces routinely embed UK personnel within allied nation units (and vice versa) via exchange programmes. As confirmed by Lord Astor, UK personnel embedded within a US unit flew armed remotely piloted air systems missions against Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011."   (photo: UK Ministry of Defense)

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