Reaper Force: Inside Britain’s Drone Wars

‘I dropped my son at his school in the morning, continued to work and within a couple of hours killed two men. I then went home to be greeted by my son with a cheery, “How was your day?” ‘– Jay, Reaper pilot

Dr Peter Lee

An extraordinary book about the personal and professional lives of Reaper operators who watch and kill from afar by Dr Peter Lee from the University of Portsmouth is published next month (4 October by Bonnier Books UK).

The RAF Reaper Force has been at war continuously since its inception in 2007, longer than the First World War and Second World War combined. Yet it remains one of the most secretive and guarded military communities in the world. The operational crew controls the aircraft, its sensors and weapons system across continents via an advanced, secure satellite communication system from bases in the UK and US.

The Reaper can hit a target with astounding accuracy. Often the first the target will know of an attack is when the missile or bomb strikes. Their work has prompted regular anti-drone demonstrations where campaigners protest that their systems are putting civilian lives at risk.

Alongside ongoing public controversy about their role in Britain’s drone wars, little is known about the RAF Reaper Force and the crews who operate them.  Despite the distance from the battle zone, remote warfare can take its toll on the personnel involved who move between home and work, peace and war, every day for years on end.

In this fascinating and insightful book, Dr Peter Lee, who is the Director of the Security and Risk research theme at the University of Portsmouth, immerses himself and the reader in the world of the Reaper operations and those who carry them out.

Dr Peter Lee, an international authority on the deployment of military drones and former RAF chaplain, was granted unprecedented research access, over several years, to the RAF’s Reaper squadrons and personnel, alongside the crews launching real-time lethal missile strikes and surveillance missions against Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

Based on extensive interviews with Reaper crew members, spouses and partners, the book is a highly detailed and intimate account of the human aspect of remote air warfare in the twenty-first century.

Dr Peter Lee said: “I was initially reluctant to write this book as my personal experience of war has been painfully focused on the human cost to those who fight. However, it took only a brief glimpse into the lives of a few RAF Reaper operators and their families to realise that theirs is an extraordinary story unlike any other in the history of warfare. I had to tell it.”

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