Last November we reported that the UK Defence Select Committee was considering an inquiry into the growing use of drones as part of a wider inquiry leading up to the Strategic Defence Review. Today, the Committee has announced further details in a press release (below). Drone Wars UK early submission to the inquiry is available here. More on this soon no doubt.
11 July 2013
NEW INQUIRY: REMOTE CONTROL: REMOTELY PILOTED AIR SYSTEMS – CURRENT AND FUTURE UK USE
This inquiry is the second of a series which have evolved from our inquiry Towards the next Defence and Security Review. These will cover a number of significant strands which the Committee believe would benefit from further Defence Committee consideration.
Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) are also often referred to colloquially as Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) or “drones”.
The UK’s RPAS capabilities are established and, potentially, expanding. Several systems, including the armed Reaper aircraft, have been used by UK forces in Afghanistan. Domestically, in recent months, test flights to prove the technology for civilian unmanned aircraft have been carried out by the ASTRAEA consortium. The aim of the programme is to enable the routine use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in all classes of airspace without the need for restrictive or specialised conditions of operation.
In this context, the Committee wishes to examine:
- Nomenclature – defining the terms RPAS, UAS and “drone”;
- Current utility and dispersal – for what purposes are RPAS used currently?;
- Lessons learned from operations in Afghanistan;
- Tomorrow’s potential – what additional capabilities will the UK seek to develop from now to 2020?;
- Constraints on the use of RPAS in the UK and overseas; and
- Ethical and legal issues arising from the use of RPAS.
The Committee will make recommendations to inform the future development and use of RPAS by the UK in the context of the next Strategic Defence and Security Review.
The Committee would welcome written evidence to this inquiry. This should be sent to the Clerk of the Defence Committee by Friday 13 September 2013.