Thanks to Chris Cole at the Drone Wars UK website for providing The DEW Line with the most detailed stats we’ve seen so far about the Royal Air Force’s use of armed Reapers in Afghanistan over the last half-decade. Here’s a Crown Copyright image showing one of the type on the ground at Kandahar airfield, with a combat load of two Paveway-series precision-guided bombs and four Hellfire missiles.
Acquired from the Ministry of Defence following a request made via the Freedom of Information Act, the data shows how the methodology for using the remotely piloted air system’s (to use the RAF’s preferred title) weapons load has changed over time.
Put simply, less is clearly more these days in the fight against the Taliban, as the use of 226kg (500lb) GBU-12 Paveways by the UK’s aircraft seemingly stopped before the end of 2011. For the Reaper force, the weapon of choice is now the smaller Hellfire, also used in Afghanistan by the British Army’s Apache AH1 attack helicopters. The sharp increase seen between 2008 and 2011 is largely due to the number of unmanned vehicles in use having expanded from one to five.