The Reaper drone and the analyst behind the RAF's lethal unmanned aerial weapon

Watch: The data analyst behind RAF's lethal unmanned aerial weapon.

RAF intelligence analysts play a vital role in evaluating the data collected by RAF Reaper drones that give commanders, aircrew or troops the information needed to make decisions in military operations.

The RAF has 10 Reaper drones flying missions over Iraq and Syria, but the crew controlling them are thousands of miles away, most of them at RAF Waddington Ground Control Station.

The Reaper, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is a mainstay of the RAF drone fleet, having flown more than 155,000 hours and launched more than 1,500 weapons over the past decade.

Reaper Drone
For 10 years, the RAF has been conducting Reaper drone missions from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

The decision to drop a missile involves multiple people, including a data analyst.

The sensor operator sits next to the pilot, collects intelligence and surveillance data and that information is passed on to the data analyst.

Air Specialist (Class 1) George –  what he looks like can't be revealed for security reasons – is a Reaper Imagery Intelligence Analyst at RAF Waddington, whose role is to analyse the data and determine a target.

Once a target has been determined, the information is passed on to the decision-makers who then make an informed decision on how they want to progress with the target.

The data analyst holds a key role in the decision-making process on whether the Reaper drops a missile or not, which can be taxing on one's mental health.

Watch: RAF Reaper's 10 years on the frontline.

AS1 George said that some days can be harder than others: "If a day was slightly more difficult for me to go and speak to someone, we have welfare on site ready to help at a moment's notice."

He also said that the job gets easier with years of experience.

"100% as you gain more experience and learn more techniques about how to analyse imagery and how to analyse further formation video, the job becomes a lot easier, and you become a bit of a subject matter expert eventually," AS1 George explained.

The job involves a great amount of attention to detail, with a high level of responsibility very early on in an analyst's career.

The contribution that the analyst makes is vital to operational success, as they are the person that communicates the picture on the ground to the senior commander, assisting them in making decisions during military operations.

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