Armed drone aircraft have been operated remotely from Britain for the first time, the Ministry of Defence has said.It said Reaper drones had flown missions controlled from RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, where campaign groups are holding a protest rally against the practice.
The 10 Reaper aircraft are all based in Afghanistan to support UK and coalition forces and can carry 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles for strikes on insurgents.
They are piloted remotely, but launched and landed with human help at Kandahar airbase.
Kat Craig, legal director of human rights charity Reprieve, said the use of drones was a blight on the communities the drones monitor.
"The nature of drones means they hover above communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week," she said.
She went on: "They present an aerial occupation, almost a form of collective punishment, that causes huge concern and distress to people living in those communities.
The state of illegal, immoral drones today that can carry bombs in Afghanistan:
The state of drone warfare tomorrow, or the day after:
Imagine one of these little suckers armed and chasing you around.
Because you own an "illegal" 22 rifle used for shooting gophers and are therefore considered an enemy combatant by the Obama administration.