A US MQ-9 Reaper drone is prepped at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. (Photo by US Air Force)
The United Kingdom is playing a covert role in the lethal US drone program, with American military
personnel helping identify targets for airstrikes from British Royal Air Force (RAF) bases, according to their job specifications.
An RAF station located near Molesworth, Cambridgeshire, has posted job advertisements looking for analysts in support of US operations in Africa, The Guardian reported.
One advert was for an “all source analyst” to “perform a variety of advanced targeting operations … in support of employment of GPS guided weapons, weaponeering and collateral estimation, as well as utilizing the tools required for advanced targeting.”
Royal Air Force Molesworth in Cambridgeshire, England (file photo)
The resume of a US military analyst, uploaded to a British recruitment site, stated that he was an MQ-9 Reaper ISR Mission Intelligence Coordinator at Molesworth.
The MQ-9, which is the American chief strike drone, is capable of firing Hellfire missiles and dropping laser-guided GBU 12 Paveway II bombs.
An MQ-9 Reaper at a training mission Nov. 17, 2015 (Photo by AFP)
Another role advertised by Molesworth was for “full motion video analysts” to review videos taken by drones and other surveillance aircraft to identify potential targets.
Now, the consultancy giant Booz Allen Hamilton is looking for a “maritime multi-level targeting analyst” to work at the same base.
The candidate will provide “comprehensive assessments… of intelligence data” to “support the client targeting cycle in order to answer intelligence questions” and “recommendations for further action or collection.”
Notwithstanding, the UK Ministry of Defense insists the US does not operate drones from the UK.
A senior MoD source dismissed the reports as a “conspiracy” theory, noting that “the reality is that there are no US Remotely Piloted Air System support facilities operating anywhere in the UK.”
However, human rights groups consider the descriptions of the roles as proof of the UK’s role in the covert US drone program, saying the country could be complicit in activities that may be in breach of international law.
“Simply to say that drones are not flown from the UK is missing the point, if it is personnel on British soil that are at the top of the so-called ‘kill chain’ and British agencies who are feeding targets into those lists,” said Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at the human rights group Reprieve.
“The British government has questions to answer over its own involvement in this secret war.”
Last year, the US Air Force put forward the idea of establishing a drone operations center at RAF Lakenheath provided that Britain approves the plan.
A radar dome at RAF Croughton (Photo via Alamy Stock)
Staff from RAF Molesworth will be taken on by RAF Croughton, a US Air Force base near Milton Keynes, which has been selected as the site for a new $300mn US intelligence-gathering hub known as the Joint Analysis Center.
The center, which already processes about a third of US military communications in Europe, is expected to play a key role in future US drone operations in Africa and the Middle East.
The United States
carries out targeted killings through remotely-controlled armed drones in several African and Middle Eastern nations.
An injured afghan youth receives treatment at a hospital following a US drone strike on September 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
It claims the air raids target members of al-Qaeda and other militant groups, but according to local officials and witnesses, civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.