The UK has spent £1.75bn on armed air missions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since August 2014, according to the Drone Wars website.
Analysis of figures released in response to Freedom of Information requests by Drone Wars UK indicate that £268 million was spent on the weapons fired over the last 3½ years. Meanwhile, the full cost of flying the UK’s armed aircraft for more than 42,000 hours was almost £1.5 billion.
Drone Wars UK is an NGO working towards a long-term goal of an international ban on the use of armed drones.
The UK’s 1,700 airstrikes are just a fraction of the enormous number of air strikes launched in Iraq and Syria over the past 3½ years. According to figures compiled by Airwars, the US-led Coalition as a whole have launched 29,000 air strikes using more than 105,000 bombs and missiles since 2014.
While Airwars has recorded over 6,000 civilian deaths from Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, the US only admits that around 841 civilians have been killed. The UK, publicly at least, continues to insist that there is no evidence any of its air strikes have killed or harmed civilians.
In the article on the Drone Wars website author Chris Cole said: “The remote nature of today’s wars means that the financial and human cost of aerial bombing becomes virtually invisible and therefore more difficult for us to comprehend. The danger is that without a proper grasp of the costs and consequences, there is less resolve to bring wars to an end as quickly as possible.
“Perhaps that is why there has been silence in parliament about UK air strikes continuing in Syria, even though Iraq has declared victory over ISIS and secured its borders, the stated aim of the intervention in the first place.”