A British Member of Parliament and the leader of a political party has suggested that the Royal Air Force use their Reaper drones to conduct ‘humanitarian airdrops’.

Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion told ‘The Staggers’:

“I believe humanitarian airdrops should begin immediately, and should be carried out by drones or GPS-guided parachutes. The use of drones is not something I have advocated before but, given the risks associated with a manned aircraft potentially being shot down and the resulting escalation in violence, it’s a compromise I am willing to make.”

The problem? The capability doesn’t exist in operational service anywhere in the world.

Precision parachute equipment like the JPADS system does exist, but is not capable of performing this task due to the 250ft accuracy (or lack thereof), largely useless in an urban area like Aleppo.

The Reaper unmanned aircraft in use by the RAF carries 3500lbs of compact weaponry, a far cry from bulky parachute-capable aid pallets, something it is neither fitted to do or able to converted to do. The aircraft is normally armed with GBU-12 500lb laser guided bombs and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and although this number can be changed to suit particular missions it cannot be substituted with cargo.

Reaper is a Remotely Piloted aircraft designed for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and, if required, ground-attack missions.

An earlier attempt to organise unmanned aid drops into Syria in 2014, was led by a US team of volunteers, they attempted to build a fleet of low-budget drones that could be locally assembled. The initiative, the ‘Syria Airlift Project’, collapsed in December 2015, after technical problems associated with the proposal.

In response, Boris Johnson said he would ‘rule nothing out’ although he put the idea of aid drops from British aircraft to bed:

“Even if Russia were to give its consent, our aircraft would still have to fly over areas of Syria that are hotly contested by a multitude of armed groups, including Daesh and al Qaida. They would make every effort to shoot down a British plane and a lumbering, low-flying transport aircraft would be a sitting duck.

We came reluctantly to the conclusion that air drops over Syria under those conditions would prove too great a risk. And when it comes to drones and other devices, we still face the problem that it is the Syrians and the Russians who control the airspace. Of course it is possible that circumstances may change, so I will not rule out any option for delivering aid today but nor will I give false hope. As things stand, we’d be risking the lives of our aircrew if we were to try to drop supplies into eastern Aleppo.”

British forces had earlier conducted aid drops in Iraq but this was stopped soon after the threat to low-flying aircraft became too high.

We all want to help the people of Aleppo but we need an adult conversation on how to do this. The only way we can deliver aid by air is with low flying aircraft, putting servicemen and women directly in harms way.

15 COMMENTS

  1. I would expect the Syrian and Russian air forces would love the opportunity to use our reapers as target practice.

    As ever the Green party they have no understanding of our limited defence capability.

  2. Surely we could under sling some Tesco* carrier bags from the weapon ports of the Reaper, or presumably would the single use of the plastic bag would upset the Green leader?

    * Other supermarkets are available

      • It’s the greens, Whole Foods all the way, air crew may have to skip a few meals to pay for it what with the 7000 reaper missions that would be needed to get a few days worth of tofu and other soy products to a family of four but still.

        I’m not being cynical I’m just assuming weight of the container that would allow a UK Aid/Green party logo to be seen from fleet street would add up.

  3. Well if we are at the point of let’s just been seen to be doing something. We could fill the cluster bombs in storage with candy, if the kids choose the wrong bomblet it’s still better than what the government forces will do to them.

    Just imagine, if we didn’t come late to the party and all of the “coalition” didn’t tie our own hands to appease the “make bold, first year level social studies statements, not war” coalition. Then we may have had a plan and outcome that didn’t involve the choice between clutching at straws, losing aircrew or watching children starve and get killed by the forces of a pair of glorified 3rd world dictators.

  4. I think we should paint all the surplus land rovers that the MOD are trying to sell for £25k each white and send these overseas and bill to the aid budget. Also we can manage our rat packs out of dates and send those before they expire – again bill to the aid budget.

    Much better than brand new toyota’s and bland rice (except where limited nutrition is required as a rat pack could kill someone who was too under nourished).

    • There is no adult conversations left in regards to aid drops, they have taken place and they are a no go. What’s left are appeals to emotion for points scoring by the same people who where happy to stand by and let Syria tear itself apart as long as it meant they could beat the antiwar drum in their black and white world.

      As the Foreign Secretary points out the Russians control the air space, Syrian government forces control increasing amount of landscape containing Russian air defence systems.

      Without their permissions we wouldn’t be sending aid we would be sending targets and any asset is out of the question.

      If we had their permission we would send existing assets with payloads in the tens of thousands of pounds. We would not purchase an unproven niche system with associated running costs in the current financial climate.

      The Reaper is incapable of performing this task in either situation and the quite serious suggestion to use it by a person who aspires to be in control of the country, its military and it’s foreign policy has quite rightly been mocked.

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