Commander rejects ‘drones’ term for aircraft

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MILITARY chiefs want to step away from the use of the word ‘drone’ when talking about unmanned aircraft, a top commander has said.

Air Vice-Marshal Phil Osborn said the term elicits ideas of unaccountable computerised technology, when actually the country’s unmanned air technology used by British forces is run by skilled professionals.

It comes as armed forces minister Mark Francois visited RAF Waddington to view the scope of unmanned serial systems available to the British military. Soldiers based at Thorney Island near Emsworth also operate unmanned aerial systems.

Air Vice-Marshal Osborn said: ‘What’s important from our perspective is that we explain how we deliver military capability.

‘We’ve had support, we still have support from the British public, which is very important to us, and part of that is making sure we explain how we do things and why we do things.

‘If we think about remotely piloted air systems or unmanned air systems we frankly don’t like the phrase drone.

‘The reason we don’t like the phrase is it paints a picture of technology that is out of control.

‘Technology for technology’s sake and nothing could be farther from the truth.’

Britain’s unmanned remotely piloted air systems range from Reapers armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs, to tiny hand-held mini helicopters named Black Hornets which allow soldiers on the ground to survey the territory around them.