Since its origin in 1995, the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator was ab initio intended for reconnaissance and forward observation functions, but the September 11 onslaughts changed that wholly. During February 4, 2002, the CIA deployed the first remote-controlled, armed Predator drone in an blackwash effort. The work stoppage was to go on in the metropolis of Khost, a state in Afghanistan. The mark was Osama bin Laden, or at least person who the CIA idea was him. Armed with a warhead of Hellfire missiles, the drone attacked a group of manque insurrectionists. Days subsequently, local journalists and Afghan civilians reported that the dead work forces were civilians roll uping bit metal. What ensued thenceforth was backlash from the public reprobating its usage. Using ( UAVs ) unmanned aerial vehicles to kill suspected terrorists marks a extremist going from the ways we have dealt with enemies before. Drones have on the side become the arm of pick for counter-terrorism. And over the coming decennaries, are expected to replace piloted aircraft. With the hereafter of warfare indicating to the usage of drones, legal and ethical issues environing their usage must be explored. Since their deployment, armed combat drones have killed panic suspects every bit good as guiltless civilians.

The Ethical motives of Predator Drones


From David ‘s catapult, to the innovation of bows and pointers, so guns, and missiles, major progresss in military engineering have revolved around the ability to kill from a distance. Just like a sniper able to hit down an NVA commanding general from a stat mi off, the ability to hit at your enemy from a greater distance than he can hit back at you is one of the grounds why warfare continues to germinate. The MQ-1 marauder drone is merely a new tool in a new sort of war. A war waged in the twenty-first century, the tallness of technological promotion in arms.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were used by the US military as a trial bed for their development of future arms. The US military might is one of the greatest of the universe. The US spends more money in defence than all of the other states combined. The money spent is used in the hopes of decreasing military casualties, and to assist in carry throughing missions and undertakings in a more effectual manner by utilizing new engineering. Their latest innovations include an mixture of automatons that are capable of executing EOD ( Explosive Ordinance Disposal ) and IED ( Improvised Explosive Device ) devastation missions. Some automatons have even cross-trained to a more combat function. For illustration, the US military have deployed a automaton called the Foster-Miller TALON. This automaton ‘s mission ranges from reconnaissance to battle by using a rifle mounted setup to its tracked human body. Qualities from the M16, M249, M240 machine gun, .50 Barrett, and sometimes a six barreled 40mm grenade launcher have all been outfitted into its tracked human body. These are merely illustrations of the automatons that are deployed on the land. The most noticeable automaton from this new coevals of combat automatons is the MQ-1 Predator drone. To this twenty-four hours, the Predator drone has flown more than 1 million flight hours.

Combat Capabilites

The CIA began experimenting with reconnaissance drones since the early 1980s. It was merely in the early 1990s when they eventually found a suited paradigm that could run into their intended mission demands. Before the production of the current MQ-1 Predator, most of the paradigms were so loud that their sensing was inevitable. A main interior decorator from the Israeli Air Force immigrated to the US in the 1970s and started his ain defence contractor concern and called it General Atomics. The CIA in secret bought 5 drones from General Atomics and equipped with a more improved and quieter Rotax engine that is driven by a propellor. The Predator drone can wing a scope of 770 stat mis and remain in the air for up to 40 hours, cruising at heights over 25,000 pess. Its top velocity is 135 miles per hour which is powered by a 115 Equus caballus powered Rotax engine. With a warhead of 450 lbs, most of the equipment include: infrared television cameras, and a ground-scanning Man-made Aperature Radar. A discrepancy was besides produced to supply a more combat-centered function. This discrepancy is armed with a brace of AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided, anti-armor missiles. Another discrepancy called the MQ-9 Reaper is their latest embodiment of combat drones. The MQ-9 Reaper is much larger and besides capable of independent flight operations. It is the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long-edurance missions.

The Predator can be disassembled into 6 chief constituents and loaded into a container which makes it quickly deployable. Included in the Predator bundle is a 20ft satellite dish and other supported equipment. The satellite dish provides a nexus to pass on with the operators at a distant remote location. The land station houses the multiple support staff from pilots to sensor operators. The distant nexus could be every bit far as 5000 stat mis off, which makes the marauder a system instead than an aircraft. The advantage of utilizing such a system is that it has all the advantages of a traditional reconnaissance sally without of all time exposing the pilot to a hostile environment.

Combat Record

Presently the US Air Force has over 190 MQ-1 Marauders and over 25 MQ-9 Harvesters in operation. Over 250 missiles have been fired in Iraq and Afghanistan entirely since 2008. An estimated 70 Marauders have been lost due to endure, equipment failure, operator mistake and an extra 4 have been shot down. With over 1 million flight hours, the Predator has maintained a 90 per centum mission capable rate. With no US casualties related to runing a drone, this proves advantageous in combat operations.

The Predator drone foremost took flight over the Balkans. It provided reconnaissance during the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia. Then in 2000, the CIA and the Pentagon joined forces to turn up Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. The first flights over Afghanistan were more of an observatory function which provided intelligence for the locations of suspected terrorists. It was n’t until the September 11 onslaughts that the US started to earnestly see build uping the Marauder with arms for combat intents. After successful testing of the freshly armed Marauders, the US found more missions for the Predator to execute and more are used today in multiple combat zones.

With its newfound function as a combat drone, the US began to deploy the Predator on missions to Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, and other middle-eastern states in which suspected terrorists are expected to be in concealing. During missions in Iraq, several Predator drones encountered Iraqi MiG-25s and participated in the first air to air combat between a drone and a piloted combatant aircraft. In fact, the US stripped multiple Predator drones of its sophisticated arms and centripetal systems and used them as steerer in the sky to lure Iraqi air defences to expose themselves by firing. The most recent history of a Predator being used to kill high-profile terrorists was during an operation to grok deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Since so, several Marauders have returned to Libya in support of the Benghazi onslaughts.

Civilian Casualties

Despite its combat effectivity against suspected terrorists, studies suggest that far more civilians have been killed by US drone onslaughts than US functionaries have acknowledged. A new survey by Stanford University and New York University contends that CIA targeted violent deaths are n’t doing America any safer and alternatively has turned the Countries that these drones have ravaged against the US. The survey calls for the Obama disposal to be more crystalline and accountable for its actions, and to turn out conformity with international jurisprudence.

One case in difference affecting civilian casualties occurred during a drone onslaught on March 17, 2011. An estimated 42 people were killed during a Jirga, a meeting of seniors. Harmonizing to studies, most of those killed were civilians with merely 4 known members of the Taliban in attending. The disparity of civilian deceases to militant deceases calls to oppugn the legal footing for targeted violent deaths by drones and the standards in which an authorized work stoppage is recommended against armed work forces who fit the profile of activists. The survey says that the drone attacks violate international jurisprudence because the authorities has no cogent evidence that the marks are direct menaces to the United States.

The undermentioned graph displays the reported human deaths ensuing from US drone work stoppages conducted in Pakistan. As you can see from the graph, human deaths have risen significantly since 2004. The dramatic rise in human deaths correlatives to the frequence of usage. Not merely has President Obama ‘s disposal embraced the CIA ‘s run of Predator drone work stoppages in Pakistan that began under President Bush in 2004. It has besides continued an acceleration of the run that began in July 2008 during the last twelvemonth of President Bush ‘s term of office ( Woodward 2010: 25 ) .

There is besides grounds that the scope of individuals being targeted has expanded. In peculiar, it has been widely reported that late in the Bush disposal, the CIA received permission to broaden the range of aiming from an sole focal point on high-value al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban marks to include “ low degree combatants whose individualities may non be known ” and that this broadened range has bit by bit come to include the Tehrik-e-Taliban ( TTP ) or Pakistani Taliban ( Kilcullen, Exum, Fick and Humayun 2009: 18 ; Mayer 2009 ; Entous 2010 ) . More and more force per unit area has been added by the international community to halt these drone onslaughts, but top US functionaries have defended its usage. A top US counter-terrorism functionary cited the benefits of its utilizations. Such benefits include reduced danger to US pilots and limited US military engagement overseas.


There were studies from the Wall Street Journal that revealed the Bush Administration ‘s and CIA ‘s program to put up hit squads to capture and kill Taliban and Al Qaeda activists around the universe. The choler from the populace grew even more when the Times reported that the CIA planned to transport out these hits by using the controversial private contractor once known as Blackwater. Members from both the House and Senate intelligence commissions claim that these programs were hidden from them and demanded a thorough probe of the plans created to transport out those hits. Although the plan was ne’er to the full operational, many legal experts contend that if they were, it would hold violated President Gerald R. Ford ‘s 1976 executive order in which it bans American intelligence forces from prosecuting in blackwashs.

Although the targeted-killing plan was ne’er to the full implemented, many consider the Predator plan to be an extension of its intended creative activity. It so happens, that the Predator plan besides uses private contractors for keeping the drones, fiting it with Hellfire missiles, and besides winging it.

There are presently 2 drone plans in which the US authorities tallies. There is the military version, for which it is publically acknowledged and operates in recognized war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The military version is considered to be an extension of conventional warfare. Then there is the CIA ‘s version, which aims at killing suspected terrorists around the universe, including in states where US military personnels are non present. The latter is covert and non much information is provided to the populace about how it chooses its marks, where the operations are conducted, or how many people have been thought to hold been killed. The international community condemns these targeted violent deaths and suggested that these onslaughts would promote other states to ignore long-established human rights criterions. Some even suggested that these drone work stoppages may even represent “ war offenses ” . Powerful states such as China, Russia and other states have publically criticized the US drone onslaughts. The concern is largely about the usage of drones outside of accepted war zones and the close nature of such operations. Aside from the lawful usage of drone onslaughts in which it is involved in armed struggle, some consider the secondary onslaughts on saviors who are assisting the injured after the initial drone onslaughts, those farther onslaughts are suggested to be war offenses.

Ethical Concerns

One of the chief concerns about utilizing the Predator drone, despite its model combat record, is that drones could take us down the route to constructing to the full independent arms systems ; machines that can do their ain lethal determinations on the battleground. It ‘s difficult to separate which arm system is considered ‘autonomous ‘ , so for the intent of doing a speedy differentiation, I will mention to any arm that makes a determination to establish a deadly onslaught as to the full independent. So, a heat-seeking Hellfire missile that follows a mark would non be independent because a human entity made the determination to force the button to establish it, but a Predator drone programmed so as to do the determination for itself to fire on a specific mark of its ain agreement would be. So every bit long as the human component is present for each peculiar deadly determination, it would non be considered independent. Many consider independent drones to be morally impermissible and are afraid that the move to do current drones independent is merely around the corner.

Another concern pertains to the drones ‘ decreased ability to know apart battlers from noncombatants. The concern stems from the trust-worthiness of intelligence and besides from the ability to spot different people from a picture provender in which the operator is literally 1000s of stat mis off from the battleground. The illustrations given before in which the toll of civilian deceases were reported to be significantly larger than the combatant deceases attest to this concern.

Some are disquieted that the usage of drones leads to psychological struggles for their operators. A drone operator would travel place or to a PTA meeting after a difficult twenty-four hours ‘s work of killing suspected terrorists from the amenitiess of his work desk. Some argue that this places unfair psychological load on them and causes cognitive disagreement in the mentality of the warrior. An even greater concern is that drone operators would handle warfare as if it were a video game ; as a consequence from the cognitive disagreement which will weaken a warrior ‘s will to contend. This could finally take to mental jobs or even PTSD ( post-traumatic emphasis upset ) which would probably impact the operator ‘s decision-making on the battleground.

Another unfavorable judgment is that drones create unfair dissymmetry in combat. The expostulation follows: The usage of technologically superior arms such as drones by one force against another force that does non hold the agencies to achieve similar engineering crosses an dissymmetry threshold that makes the combat inherently ignoble. It ‘s considered to be morally impermissible to oppose two opposing sides against each other whose combat abilities differ greatly. Imagine opposing a king of beasts against a Canis familiaris. The same rule applies when you consider jus in bello ( Laws of war ) . This place is normally held because in such fortunes one side literally does non take any life-or decease hazards whatsoever ( or about so, since its warfighters are non even present in the primary theatre of combat ) whereas the opposing side carries all the hazard of combat. ( Stawser, 2010 )

A Moral Case for Drones

There are many advocators for the continued usage of drones. Some argue that the US is non merely entitled but morally obliged to utilize drones. Sing all the advantages, there is truly no downside to utilizing them. Drones are simply an extension of a long historical flight of taking a warrior of all time further from his enemy for the warrior ‘s better protection. ( Strawser, 2010 ) Predator drones have been credited with the remotion of top Al Qaeda and Taliban members, the most recent being Al Qaeda ‘s No. 3, Mustafa Abu al-Yazid. Stoping these influential terrorist leaders proved to be valuable in halting big scale terrorists secret plans aimed at destructing or even lay waste toing US metropoliss and their Alliess.


It ‘s merely a affair of clip when drones will govern the sky. Not merely are drones being used in the combat zone, blackwash secret plans, or merely surveillance, there are programs in the hereafter for them to roll in the sky of our ain US metropoliss. Plans to do drones an extension of jurisprudence enforcement are inevitable. Before that happens, we have to be responsible citizens and look deep into the ethical jobs that they provide and non be blinded by its technological high quality. As the drone onslaughts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere have demonstrated, we now have the ultimate in push button warfare. There is ever an advantage to holding military high quality over your enemies. However, I think it ‘s of import that we non fall into the trap of believing that merely because our catapult has a greater scope than the other cat ‘s, we are morally justified in utilizing it in every instance. Military high quality brings with it a moral duty non to utilize the superior arms we possess simply because we possess them.A ( Vincent, 2009 )