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Unmanned Air Vehicles

Volume 577: debated on Monday 10 March 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 18 April 2013, Official Report, column 527W, on unmanned air vehicles, (1) how many Army personnel have received unmanned aerial systems training; and what proportion of those trained personnel currently operate unmanned aerial systems in (a) the UK, (b) Afghanistan and (c) the Middle East; [R] (159082)

(2) how many Army personnel have been trained since the Army acquired unmanned aerial systems; [R]

(3) at what intervals training for the operation of unmanned aerial systems is reviewed; [R]

(4) how many days of training each operator of unmanned aerial systems receives. [R]

[Official Report, 17 June 2013, Vol. 564, c. 502W.]

Letter of correction from Andrew Robathan:

An error has been identified in the written answer given to the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson) on 17 June 2013.

The full answer given was as follows:

Mini unmanned aerial system (UAS) pilots receive a minimum of 71 days training. Tactical UAS pilots receive a minimum of 91 days training.

Since April 1999, 461 students have passed the UAS ground school course which is the precursor to UAS pilot training. Of these 140 UAS pilots (30% of those trained) are currently based in the UK and are qualified on systems which are flown in UK airspace for training purposes only. Up to 21 UAS pilots (5%) are deployed in the middle east for training purposes only. 48 UAS pilots (10%) are currently deployed in Afghanistan. The remaining 252 (55%) are either no longer in the Army, no longer employed as UAS pilots, or operate Hermes 450 which is not cleared for UK flying.

The Army has a process for evaluating every course for its effectiveness and relevance so that it can respond to changes in operational need.

The correct answer should have been:

Mini unmanned aircraft system (UAS) pilots receive a minimum of 71 days training. Tactical UAS pilots receive a minimum of 91 days training.

The number of soldiers and officers trained in UAS operations from April 1999 to October 2013 is 1,062. This includes all personnel who have completed basic UAS training at any point since 1999 including those who have undertaken conversion training from earlier systems or refresher training. Some individuals may therefore be counted twice, but it is not possible to identify these separately. At October 2013 146 personnel were deployed on UAS operations in Afghanistan. This was 13% of those who have ever been trained in UAS operations. All other trained personnel who were still serving were in the UK.

The Army has a process for evaluating every course for its effectiveness and relevance so that it can respond to changes in operational need.