There was widespread coverage at the weekend of demonstrations outside RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire against the air base becoming the location for the control of the UK’s armed remotely-piloted Reaper aircraft (commonly known as drones) that operate in support of operations in Afghanistan.

UK Reapers are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots who adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement which apply to traditionally manned RAF aircraft.

UK Reaper aircraft operate only in Afghanistan, primarily in a surveillance and reconnaissance role in support of British and ISAF troops and our allies in the Afghan security forces. The capability provided by these aircraft is undoubtedly helping to save the lives of our forces, our allies and those of countless Afghan civilians.

Reaper aircraft cannot release weapons unless commanded to do so by the pilot. In all military operations, everything possible is done to avoid civilian casualties and this is no less the case with these operations.