Protestors gathered outside RAF Waddington over the weekend to oppose experimental US drone flights from the airbase over the UK.
American company General Atomics’ proposed plans for its new SkyGuardian drone to take off from RAF Waddington over the summer were met with hostility from local campaigners, who stood outside the airbase with banners and signs calling for a halt to drone tests.
The flights are due to be conducted between August and September from Waddington, before moving to RAF Lossiemouth in North East Scotland until the end of October, after airspace regulators gave the flights the go-ahead in July.
UK Drone Watch, a campaign group leading the opposition, are calling the planned flights a breach of safety regulations, due to the airbase’s close proximity with houses, schools and businesses.
Experimental flights were due to take place over San Diego in California last year ahead of the UK flights this summer, but were shelved after safety objections from regulators, instead taking place in a stranded desert.
General Atomics has announced plans to ship one of the drones into the UK this summer rather than fly it, and the British Ministry of Defence is acquiring a version of the drone called Protector, with plans in place to house these drones at RAF Waddington in the future ahead of “daily operations”, according to GA themselves.
UK Drone Watch have claimed that the RAF still haven’t explained how and where the SkyGuardian will operate, as well as how the public’s concerns will be addressed.
Tim Street, UK Drone Watch Campaign Co-ordinator, said: “General Atomics should not be allowed to use the UK’s airspace as a glorified showroom just so they can sell armed drones to US allies.
“Residents of Lincolnshire need to know the risks of large military drones being flown over their homes and workplaces. Our protest was necessary because the UK government’s drone’s policy must be subject to democracy, transparency and accountability, so that abuses of power are prevented.”
General Atomics have been contacted by The Lincolnite for a comment.