Drones: Engaging in Debate and Accountability

Briefing 25-04-2013

Remotely piloted vehicles or aircraft are not an invention of the late 20th or early 21st century. Adding weapons to UAVs was proposed as early as the late 1940s, although these armed UAVs only came into use decades later. Remotely-piloted systems are also used in science, agriculture, environmental protection, goods transport and border security. New opportunities, such the use of RPAS for regulating air traffic, reveal the challenges in cyber security, privacy protection, national and public security, and structural changes. Shifting demands, new UAV market entrants and increasing competition in the global market will challenge traditional (combat) aircraft industry structures. Innovation requires political and societal debate. Innovation in defence requires even more of this debate. Drones do not alter what the military does. Debate, organised at the European level, could develop a set of rules regarding the use of RPAS.