DM: Britain Lost Hundreds of Military Drones in Iraq, Afghanistan

'Low Cost' of Drones Undercut By How Many Are Just Abandoned

Drone manufacturers have often emphasized the low cost of production as an advantage over traditional aircraft. But where fighter jets and other warplanes are often used for years, it seems the drones get lost or abandoned in much shorter order.

At least if the British government is anything to go by. Defense Ministry officials confirmed that they have lost 450 drones over the past several years in Iraq and Afghanistan, with most of them caused by “operator error.” The other common causes were technical failures and a decision to just abandon them because they’re too inconvenient to recover in certain areas.

Officials did not reveal the overall cost of these 450 drones, but confirmed that one cost over $20 million and nine others were $2 million each. The losses were a meaningful chunk of the British drone fleet, and officials say they are trying to improve training for the remote operators to prevent further losses since the fleet has less and less capacity to spare.

It also adds to questions from groups that have been fighting against schemes to use the drones domestically, especially since the smaller spy drones more likely to find use in law enforcement seem to be the ones most often careening out of the sky for no apparent reason.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of