Defence written question – answered on 1st November 2012.

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Photo of Rehman Chishti Rehman Chishti Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many missiles have been fired by Royal Air Force unmanned aerial vehicles in Afghanistan since the introduction of those vehicles.

Photo of Andrew Robathan Andrew Robathan The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Reaper is the only UK remotely piloted air system (RPAS) and has been armed with precision guided weapons since May 2008. As of 22 October 2012, the UK Reaper RPAS has provided more than 40,000 hours of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to UK and coalition forces in Afghanistan. 293 Hellfire precision guided missiles and 52 laser guided bombs have been deployed using the UK Reaper RPAS.

Reaper is not an autonomous system and all weapons employment depends upon commands from the flight crew. The weapons may be released under the command of a pilot who uses Rules of Engagement (ROE) that are no different to those used for manned UK combat aircraft. The targets are always positively identified as legitimate military objectives, and attacks are prosecuted in strict accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict and UK ROE. Every effort is made to ensure the risk of collateral damage, including civilian casualties, is minimised.

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