Onboard footage of an RAF drone unleashing hell on Taliban
RAF Pilot Unleashes Hell on Taliban from the Comfort in Lincolnshire First Glimpse Inside Drone HQ.
Sitting before a bank of flickering computer screens and controls, the RAF pilot flies a drone in the skies above Afghanistan.
But the airman is not operating the £10million Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from the warzone — or even the US.
Instead, he is 8,000 miles away in a hi-tech control hub in a remote part of East Anglia— poised to order the controversial robot to carry out airstrikes using its fearsome array of Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.
Score a tour of the Royal Air Force’s high-tech drone base in Waddington, and you just might get a peek at some video of the flying service’s unmanned aerial sorties over Afghanistan. Video showcasing the advanced imaging capabilities of the RAF’s Reaper squadron. Or video highlighting that no, the RAF takes none of these, the tough calls that confound the shadow wars, lightly. Just don’t expect to see explosions. Don’t expect to see blood or death. Don’t expect to see anything like this video, which was uploaded to LiveLeak shows onboard footage of an RAF drone incinerating a moving vehicle.
At around 1:22, you can see the Reaper’s laser designator lock onto its target. Then comes the flash. It’s chilling stuff, and definitely not for the faint of heart. Of course, this sort of drone porn—what some of today’s remote warriors are prone to call “bugsplat”—has for years been circulating around those corners of the internet steeped in fascinations with the morbid and the macabre. A lot of it is in the public domain.
So setting aside the grim realities of remote death from above, that this clip is “out there” is not what’s particularly shocking here. It’s the timing, rather, that couldn’t be any more damning. It sets the RAF’s public-facing sanitization of its drone program, of which the US is complicit (RAF crews still cooperate with American drone pilots, to say nothing of relying on American satellites to pinpoing targets like the car above), into sharp relief.
Just prior to the upload on LiveLeak, the BBC published an insider look at the RAF’s Waddington base, which played up just how anxious the Ministry of Defense is to illustrate how carefully it carries out its lethal drone strikes.” As well as opening up Waddington,” the BBC reports, “they have released video from previous missions”:
One shows how clearly a Reaper’s camera can focus on an insurgent on the ground. Thousands of feet in the air it can even identify the weapon as it is being fired… Another video shows a suspected insurgent hiding behind a wall before running into a compound. To prove that care is taken to avoid civilian casualties the Hellfire that has already been aimed at the suspect is diverted mid-flight to avoid the buildings and any collateral damage.
These were hand selected from untold thousand of hours of onboard footage, the BBC adds. Which makes complete sense. The RAF, much like the US Department of Defense, is taking pains to undercut any public notion that drone operations are akin to a video game. Even if it is in the public domain, why would the RAF actively draw attention to the above video? Either way, it can’t be pleased.
- Inside Britain’s military drone base (bbc.co.uk)
- Inside Britain’s military drone base (themexicanpost.wordpress.com)