London: Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) flew armed US drones as part of NATO’s military effort during last year’s Libyan conflict, the country’s Ministry of Defence has revealed.
According to The Guardian, the disclosure comes 10 months after the end of a campaign in which the UK Government had insisted that no British drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), were involved.
The MoD’s acknowledgement that RAF flew US drones came from Defence Minister Lord Astor.
In an answer to a question on the issue, he said: "Her Majesty's government does not use armed remotely piloted air systems against terrorist suspects outside Afghanistan. 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 UNSCR resolution 1973."
The MoD said it believed RAF had only flown American drones over Libya, and had not done so in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
“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,” a spokesperson added.
“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,” he added.
First Published: Friday, July 27, 2012, 17:01