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# drones - Monday 5 December, 2011

US vacating air base in Pakistan used by drones

Islamabad demanded the vacation of an airbase used by US drones in response to NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

# drones - Sunday 30 October, 2011

Suspected US drones kill 6 in Pakistan

Six alleged militants have been killed by suspected American drone aircraft on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

# drones - Friday 22 April, 2011

Libyan battle 'heading toward a stalemate'

The US’ most senior army official made the comments even as he said that 30-40 per cent of pro-Gaddafi ground forces in Libya had been destroyed.

Armed unmanned drones deployed in Libya

Obama approves missile strikes on military targets using unmanned aircraft, as rebel forces seize a Tunisian border post.

# drones - Tuesday 13 July, 2010

THE BRITISH Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed the future of unmanned fighting in the skies: Taranis.

A prototype of the plane, which has taken more than three million man hours to develop,  was unveiled with plans to launch a working model for flight trials in 2011.

The technology was praised by Defence Minister Gerald Howarth as “the best of our nation’s advanced design and technology”.

It is hoped that Taranis, named after the Celtic god of thunder, will eventually fight combatants by striking targets at long range – even from other continents.

The MoD explains that as “highly trained military crews on the ground” would be in control of the drone plane, targets could be identified from bases thousands of miles away.

However, while the MoD champions the model’s high level of autonomy that very issue has raised serious concerns in other quarters: Critics say that the plane may have difficulty differentiating between combatants and civilians.

Speaking to New Scientist magazine, Noel Sharkey, a robotics engineer specialising in the autonomous military systems, said alarm bells rang for him as he read that the launch information, which explained that the aircraft was a “fully autonomous intelligent system” with applications in “deep missions” and “deep target attack” capability.

Sharkey explained that that “deep mission” is military jargon for “beyond the reach of a remote pilot”.

In other words: the controller on the ground would have no way of identifying the target and the aircraft may decide on its own what constitutes a target.

Sharkey said: “We need to know if this means the robot planes will chose their own targets and destroy them – because they certainly will not have the intelligence to discriminate between civilians and combatants.”

Landmine Action UK have also voiced concerns about autonomous “war robots”, saying that the technology involved in the attack is “as indiscriminate as landmines.”