LONDON, April 27 (UPI) -- Unmanned, armed aircraft used by coalition forces in Afghanistan for the first time are being operated remotely from Britain, defense officials say.
The 10 Reaper drones are based in Afghanistan but controlled from the RAF Waddington air base in the central English county of Lincolnshire, CNN reported Saturday.
Previously, British military personnel controlled the drones from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.
The Royal Air Force created a squadron of about 100 people at Waddington in October that includes pilots, systems operators and engineers.
The aircraft are used primarily for surveillance. However, they carry 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles that can be released by the operator.
U.K. Ministry of Defense officials said the drones are not used for targeted assassinations, unlike the Predator drones used by the United States.
Activists protested transferring control of the drones to England and called on the government to end the drones program.
The move was a "critical expansion in the nation's drones program," they charged, and made it easier to launch military interventions.
Chris Nineham, vice chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, said drone technology gives "carte blanche to governments to fight wars behind the backs of people with no public scrutiny or accountability."