A new report published by Drone Wars UK reveals that over the last five years the number of countries actively using armed drones has quadrupled. Drone Wars: The Next Generation demonstrates that from just three states (US, UK and Israel) in 2013, there are now a further nine who have deployed armed drones in a variety of roles including for armed conflict and counter-terror operations.
The report also shows that a further nine states are very close to having armed drone capabilities, almost doubling the number of existing users. To this number, we have added five non-state actors who have used armed drones, which will take the number of active operators of armed drones to over 25 in the next few years.
A number of studies by think tanks and NGOS over the last few years have shown that military drone technology has spread to over 90 countries, however, the ability to use armed drones has until recently remained in the hands of only a relatively few states. Some media reports, perhaps egged on by special interest groups, can give the impression that the skies are already filled with armed drones from many countries, ready to strike at any moment and so there is little to be done.
However, while the numbers of countries operating armed drones is increasing, we are not yet at the point of being unable to control the proliferation and use of these systems. Drone Wars has sifted through much rumour, hearsay and propaganda from various countries to find out exactly who has manufactured, exported or acquired armed drones, and in what ways these drones have been put to use. We believe our report gives a clear picture of the reality of armed drone proliferation and the implications for global peace and security.
The report also looks at the international mechanisms under which the export of armed drones is controlled and discusses whether they are fit for purpose. The report ends with a call to the UK government to support a new initiative, developing under the auspices of the UN agency UNIDIR, to build a multilateral process to address the concerns around the proliferation and use of armed drones. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full report (42 PDF pages), on the Drone Wars website.