The UK's combat and peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since earlier this decade have resulted in the loss of almost 50 unmanned air vehicles and irreparable damage to almost 40 more, secretary of state for defence Des Browne has revealed.
"Since 2003, 33 UAVs have been lost in Iraq", says Browne, adding that a further 38 were damaged beyond repair. The Ministry of Defence has not released details of the air vehicle types involved, but at least 23 of the British Army's BAE Systems Phoenix UAVs are known to have been lost or written off during the combat phase of Iraqi operations. Other unmanned systems believed to have been used in the country by British forces include Mission Technologies Buster and Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk mini UAVs and US Air Force-owned General Atomics MQ-1 Predators.
Browne has also revealed that 15 Desert Hawks were destroyed and another damaged beyond repair during operations in Afghanistan until 24 April.