LONDON — British Royal Air Force personnel operated U.S. drones over Libya last year in support of the NATO mission there, the Ministry of Defense said Thursday.
While the American use of drones in Libya was previously known – a U.S. Predator drone took part in the airstrike that hit a convoy carrying ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi – British officials have insisted that no U.K. drones were involved there or have been used outside of Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defense said Thursday that was still the case, but confirmed that Royal Air Force personnel embedded within a U.S. unit had operated "armed Remotely Piloted Air Systems missions" against Gadhafi's forces in Libya in 2011.
It did not provide further details on the number of armed drone missions RAF personnel flew or what U.S. unit they were embedded with, but stressed that the U.K. armed forces routinely embed within units of allied nations – and vice versa – through exchange programs.
"There were no and are no" U.K. drones operating outside of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.