APPG submission to the Defence Select Committee

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?

 Tomorrow’s potential

  • 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?

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