Remote control war - 5 live gets access to drone base

From a press release to
Posted 8 July 2015, 12.44pm edt

BBC Radio 5 live

BBC Radio 5 live has been given exclusive access to the RAF base where aircrews use “drones” to fight so-called Islamic State.

Presenter Adrian Chiles has been to the British air base from where unmanned aircraft are used to gather intelligence and take action against the militant group.

Adrian was given a tour of the base in Lincolnshire where aircrews sit in metal cabins on the ground watching and attacking targets thousands of miles away. He’s the first member of the media to be allowed inside since the UK started surveillance and attack missions against Islamic State last year.

The unmanned aircraft are currently targeting the group in Iraq and performing surveillance duties in Syria. Some people refer to the planes as “drones” but the Ministry of Defence prefers to describe them as remotely piloted air systems or Reapers.

It comes as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon suggests the RAF mission against Islamic state might have to be extended. The man in charge of the squadron tells Adrian their mission can change mid-flight, the instant they get new orders from the government.

Tomorrow BBC Radio 5 live Daily takes an exclusive look inside the airbase and meets the pilots and commanders who are fighting a war thousands of miles away.

They speak frankly about witnessing attacks on the ground, but being unable to help, because some missions are only reconnaissance. And their commander discusses the potential threat of post traumatic stress disorder, which might affect crews who “fly” for so many more hours a day.

Adrian Chiles will also look at the ethics of unmanned aircraft and speak to people who object to their use.

The programme is aired tomorrow from 10 am on BBC Radio 5 live.

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