The British government has reportedly planned to double the number of its armed drone aircraft flying combat and surveillance operations in Afghanistan.
In the new squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles ( UAVs), five Reaper drones will be sent to Afghanistan. According to the Guardian, they are likely to begin operations within six weeks.
The report also said that for the first time, the aircraft would be controlled from terminals and screens in Britain.
The UK’s existing five Reaper drones, which are used to target suspected insurgents in Helmand, have been operated from Creech air force base in Nevada because Britain has not had the capability to fly them from here.
According to the paper, after ‘standing up’ the new XIII squadron in a ceremony this Friday, the UK will soon have 10 Reapers in Afghanistan.
“The new squadron will have three control terminals at RAF Waddington, and the five aircraft will be based in Afghanistan,” the paper quoted a spokesman, as saying. ”We will continue to operate the other Reapers from Creech though, in time, we will wind down operations there and bring people back to the UK,” he added.
According to the paper, the Cameron administration is yet to decide whether the aircraft will remain there after 2014, when all NATO combat operations are due to end.