The UK prime minister David Cameron wants to expand the fleet of uncrewed aircraft to combat terrorism. But don’t expect that to be enough, says Jack Serle

ISLAMIC STATE is “the threat of our generation”, says UK prime minister David Cameron. To help counter it, he wants an expanded fleet of drones, the controversial uncrewed aircraft. But don’t expect them to win the war.

UK forces already use drones. Most are small, unarmed tactical devices, designed to help frontline troops move safely through inhospitable terrain, so operating them requires people on the ground. But small numbers of bigger, armed Reaper drones have been sent by the UK to the Middle East to fight ISIS. They can be controlled via satellite from the other side of the world. They loiter high above the battlefield, sucking up intelligence to feed into air strikes – launched either by themselves or crewed aircraft.

While the US dominates use of offensive drones, the UK is one of a handful of NATO nations using Reaper. It has only used them for attacks in …

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