An extraordinary insight into the day job of the RAF's Reaper remote attack drone pilots has been assembled, with the team based at RAF Waddington revealing how they go about monitoring their targets for weeks before eventually pulling the trigger.
University of Portsmouth professor Peter Lee was granted access to the team, who spoke, anonymously, about their careers as remote drone attackers. The grim summary is this: the team members may spend several weeks observing their targets through video feeds, building up a picture of how they live before pulling the trigger -- creating an odd sense of involvement with the victim and his or her family before the killer strike is launched.
Dr Lee says the overall feeling is that drone piloting has been unfairly categorised as an easy thing to do seeing as the attack launchers are 3,000 miles away from the victim, which is not the case at all. He explains: "When drones were first introduced people thought of them as computer games, that there would be a disconnect and what I have found is that is totally immersive. It takes a great amount of commitment and it has a big impact on [the pilots]. It has been seriously misunderstood."
He suggests mandatory psychological support for Reaper crew members should be offered to help them cope with the effects of their remote combat. [Lincolnshire Live]
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