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Parliament looking into use of unmanned aircraft

July 16, 2013 at 12:25 PM

LONDON, July 16 (UPI) -- The future use of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS) by Britain's military and intelligence organizations is to be investigated by Parliament.

The inquiry will be conducted by the House of Commons' Defense Committee, which will make recommendations on the development and use of such systems in the context of the next Strategic Defense and Security Review.

"The U.K.'s RPAS capabilities are established and, potentially, expanding," the committee said in a statement. "Several systems, including the armed Reaper aircraft, have been used by U.K. 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 program is to enable the routine use of unmanned aircraft systems in all classes of airspace without the need for restrictive or specialized conditions of operation."

ASTRAEA (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment) is an industry-led group that focuses on the technologies, procedures and regulations that will allow drones to operate in civilian airspace.

The committee said it will specifically look at the current usefulness of remotely piloted aircraft, lessons learned from their use in Afghanistan; additional capabilities that could be developed from now until 2020; constraints on the use of RPAS in Britain and elsewhere; and ethical and legal issues as a result of their use.

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