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Hundreds start drone protest march to RAF Waddington

Crowds of peace campaigners gather in Lincoln for start of anti-drone protest march Credit: ITV Central

Hundreds of peace campaigners have started marching from Lincoln to RAF Waddington, in protest of a new fleet of armed drones being based in the UK for the first time.

Protesters preparing their banners before the march takes place Credit: ITV Central

The RAF began remotely operating its Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles earlier this week from the airbase in Lincolnshire.

Previously operated from a United States Air Force base in Nevada, the aircraft are used to support coalition ground forces in Afghanistan.

Banners are laid out at South Park in Lincoln before the march takes place Credit: ITV Central

Members of the Stop The War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want are estimated to walk the four mile route in around two hours.

It's expected to take the protesters two hours to walk the four mile route from Lincoln to RAF WAddington. Credit: ITV Central

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Route of armed drone protest march in Lincoln

The protest march will start at South Park in Lincoln Credit: ITV Central

Hundreds of protesters are due to start marching from Lincoln to RAF Waddington against the use of armed drone aircraft.

It's the first time the Ministry of Defence has based the spy planes in the UK, which will be deployed over Afghanistan.

Today's march will start at South Park, down the A15 Cross O'Cliff hill and down Grantham Road to a Peace camp set up outside the airbase.

Police tweet details about today's Drone protest march

Twitter-profile-pic_normal

Sections of Cross O'Cliff hill and A15 will be subject to phased closures early afternoon. Follow our tweets for info http://t.co/L6niGo8m8l

Lincolnshire Police will be live tweeting details of road closures during today's protest march over armed drone planes being based at RAF Waddington.

Hundreds are expected to walk from South Park in Lincoln to the base. It's the first time the RAF has based the crewless aircraft in the UK.

Surveillance drones flown for first time from UK

The new aircraft, known as 13 Squadron, which were officially "stood up" in October, started flying missions over Afghanistan this week from their base in Lincolnshire.

The drones will be used in Afghanistan Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The hi-tech Reaper drones are primarily used to gather intelligence on enemy activity on the ground, but they also carry 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles for precision strikes on insurgents.

An MoD spokesman said they had been carrying out missions including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, but would not comment on exactly what individual missions had been flown in the past week by drones piloted from the UK.

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War protester: 'Now is the time to ban killer drones'

Ahead of a planned protest outside an RAF base today against the UK's use of armed drones in Afghanistan, War on Want senior campaigns officer Rafeef Ziadah said:

Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians' decisions to launch military strikes and order extrajudicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public.

"Now is the time to ban killer drones - before it is too late.

Drones have been flown for the first time from Lincolnshire

Drone missions over Afghanistan have been flown by RAF pilots operating on British soil for the first time.

Until this week, RAF crews who control armed drones in Afghanistan have been operating from the USA Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

The drones will be used in Afghanistan Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Last year the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that the UK was doubling the number of armed RAF drones in Afghanistan to 10 with the five new aircraft to be operated remotely from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

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MoD defends its use of drones in Afghanistan

The Ministry of Defence has defended its use of drones in Afghanistan, which it says have saved the lives of countless military personnel and civilians.

UK Reaper aircraft are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots who adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement which apply to traditionally manned RAF aircraft.

– Ministry of Defence spokesman
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Anti-drones protest set to be staged at RAF base

Anti-war protesters are set to gather outside an RAF base today to voice their opposition to the UK's use of armed drones in Afghanistan.

Members of the Stop The War Coalition, CND, The Drone Campaign Network and War on Want will march from Lincoln to nearby RAF Waddington.

An RAF MQ-9 Reaper
An RAF MQ-9 Reaper Credit: MOD

The RAF began remotely operating its Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles deployed to Afghanistan from the Lincolnshire airbase earlier this week.

In a statement, the RAF said it had started supporting the International Security Assistance Force and Afghan ground troops with "armed intelligence and surveillance missions" remotely piloted from RAF Waddington.

The aircraft were previously operated from a United States Air Force base in Nevada.

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