The British Royal Navy is looking at two new unmanned air systems as the country’s defense ministry considers 2016 spending allocations. The aerial programs would significantly boost the navy’s current stock of unmanned maritime systems, which currently includes just one drone deployed in the Middle East.
“We are trying to kick off two programs at the moment,” Cmdr. Bow Wheaton, the Royal Navy's program manager for naval air programs, said this month, according to Defense News.
The nation’s armed services were recently awarded with a better-than-expected budget for the next decade; however, it is unclear whether the navy will get the cash it wants to put more unmanned machines in the sky. The systems' plans are expected to be reviewed before the current budget planning rounds are completed for the 2016 fiscal year, which starts in April.
The navy uses drones to detect potential threats in the sea and report back. There are several companies that make the types of aircraft the navy is looking for, including Raytheon, Boeing, Camcopter and AgustaWestland. Britain has more drones in its war arsenal than the single system owned by the navy. In September it was discovered that the U.K. had launched airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, even though the country’s Parliament had voted in 2013 against military action there. Two British citizens were killed during the attack, drawing intense criticism of Prime Minister David Cameron.
The United States is also known for dropping bombs in the region from unmanned vehicles. The drone program has been frequently used by the Obama administration and has been credited with the death of several high-level terrorist targets, including the militant known as “Jihadi John,” who murdered U.S. journalist James Foley on camera last year.