Drone Wars Briefing

Chris Cole

Ten years ago, the United States Air Force successfully launched a missile from a Predator drone for the first time at a test range in the Nevada desert.1 While unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones as they are commonly known) had previously been used in military operations for reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting purposes, this was a significant point in the evolution of military drones.
Just months later, in the aftermath of ‘9/11’, the first operational armed strike by a remote controlled unmanned drone took place in Afghanistan, when a CIAoperated Predator drone attacked al-Qaeda leader Mohammed Atef. According to media reports, Atef was killed along with seven other people.2 Since that first attack, the use of armed drones has risen, slowly at first but more dramatically since 2009, to the point where at times drone strikes are almost a daily occurrence. (pdf at dronewarsuk.files.wordpress.com)