The APPG on drones made a submission to the Defence Select Committee’s inquiry into Remotely Piloted Air Systems – current and future UK use. The full submission can be downloaded: appg-submission-on-the-use-of-drones.pdf.
The APPG’s submission focused on the following issues:
(a) A lack of transparency and accountability about the use of drones by the UK Government particularly in relation to:
- the poor recording of the status and numbers of those killed and injured in drone strikes;
- the limited consideration of the psychological impact of drones on operators and those living in affected areas;
- the broader relationship between the achievement of the UK’s military and diplomatic objectives and drone use.
(b) Concerns about the shape of the US-UK relationship and drone warfare with particular reference to:
- Operation of US drones from UK soil;
- Citizenship stripping.
The inquiry’s terms of reference are:
Concept of Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS)
Nomenclature – what do we mean when we talk about Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and associated terms?
Current utility and dispersal
- For what purposes are RPAS used currently?
- What RPAS capabilities do the UK military and intelligence communities currently possess or operate?
- What governance and oversight arrangements are in place for the use of RPAS in the UK and overseas?
- What lessons have been learnt from RPAS operations in Afghanistan, and elsewhere (including present and planned weapons), and how will this enable the future development of doctrine on their use?
- How dependent is the UK RPAS programme on technology, training and operational support from the USA?
- What additional capabilities will the UK seek to develop from now to 2020?
- What current and prospective partnership working on RPAS is the UK engaged in?
- What governance and oversight arrangements are in place for such programmes?
- What are the associated costs?
- What constraints exist on the use of RPAS in the UK and overseas?
- What air worthiness and certification requirements apply?
- What restrictions apply to insertion into civil airspace?
Ethical and legal issues
- What ethical and legal issues arise from the use of RPAS?
- What governance and accountability arrangements are in place for UK operated RPAS?
APPG Chair, Tom Watson MP, writing about the Information Tribunal and the approach take by the Ministry of Defence to transparency. http://www.tom-watson.co.uk/2013/10/ministry-of-defence-on-drones-a-lesson-on-opacity-and-obfuscation
The Defence Committee has announced the terms of its inquiry into drones – details below. The Committee’s website can be found here.
REMOTE CONTROL: REMOTELY PILOTED AIR SYSTEMS – CURRENT AND FUTURE UK USE
The Defence Committee today announces a new inquiry into current and future use of Remotely Piloted Air Systems by the UK military and intelligence communities.
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.
A post about our latest meeting, co-hosted with the Afghanistan Withdrawal Group, are now online and can be found here.
Welcome to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). The Group was founded in October 2012. The purpose of the Group is:
To examine the use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) by governments, for domestic and international, military and civilian purposes.
More details about the aims and objectives of the Group, can be found on our About page. We work with a range of civil society organisations, who undertake research, monitoring and advocacy on the use of drones by the UK and elsewhere. Their websites can be found on the side bar.
The APPG holds meetings in Parliament which serve to engage and educate Parliamentarians on the use of this technology. These meetings are invitation only but the minutes, briefings and reports of these meetings can be found on the APPG meetings page. The Group uses Parliamentary processes to increase transparency and accountability on the UK’s use of drones, a table collating these responses can be found on the Parliamentary Questions page. The Group also submitted two Early Day Motions which can be found here.