The Royal Air Force’s 216 Squadron has carried out no trials and has just four full-time staff, a campaign group has revealed
The British drone test squadron supposed to embody the “futuristic and ambitious” Royal Air Force (RAF) vision has no drones and has not carried out any trials since its reactivation more than two years ago, The Telegraph reported. The article cites a Ministry of Defense response to freedom of information requests made by campaign group Drone Wars UK.
Additionally, 216 Squadron has only four full-time personnel, although the unit also uses reservists, the response said.
The request was made by Chris Cole, the founder of Drone Wars UK, a campaign group which calls for greater public transparency over the use of such weapons. His investigation fell under the Freedom of Information Act, which provides access to information held by UK public authorities.
“216 Squadron has not conducted any UAV testing since its reactivation on April 1, 2020… There were no UAVs listed in 216 Squadron’s inventory at the time of your inquiry. This means that the response to the third part of your request was ‘zero'”, the response read.
Nonetheless, in 2021, speaking at the Global Air Chiefs Conference, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston touted 216 Squadron, saying it had proven the “Disruptive and innovative utility of swarm drones.”
“We have focused on confusing and overwhelming enemy air defenses, but we are already planning new disruptive missions which I will leave to your imagination,” said the air marshal at the time.
Cole, meanwhile, said that “Defense companies and politicians repeatedly promise results and underestimate costs while giving less and less information about military programs.”
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