Defence Committee

Session 2007-08, 13 March 2008

Announcement of Inquiry

Announcement of Inquiry

Defence Committee inquiry into ISTAR

The House of Commons Defence Committee is today launching an inquiry into ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance). ISTAR is a key military capability that generates and delivers specific information and intelligence to decision makers at all levels in support of the planning and conduct of operations.

ISTAR is a broad subject covering the collection of information / intelligence, and its processing and dissemination. The MoD has a wide range of programmes to improve the persistence, reach and accuracy of dedicated ISTAR collection capabilities, and to address shortfalls in the direction, processing and dissemination elements of the intelligence cycle.

The Committee plans to undertake a series of inquiries into ISTAR, the first of which will focus on the role of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in providing ISTAR capability. The MoD has acquired several UAV systems as Urgent Operational Requirement (UORs) for current operations and is procuring UAV systems such as Watchkeeper, to provide improved future ISTAR capability.

The inquiry will include the following issues:

  • What contribution UAVs are making to the MoD's current ISTAR capability;
  • How the UAV procurement programmes currently being run by the MoD are progressing and how the lessons from the use of UAVs on current operations are being reflected in these programmes;
  • How the information / intelligence collected from current UAVs is used and what factors are limiting the most effective use of this information / intelligence (for example, the systems which process and disseminate the information / intelligence collected);
  • Whether the MoD is exploiting fully the ISTAR capabilities offered by UAVs (including drawing on the experience of its allies);
  • How the current and future ISTAR capabilities offered by UAVs is informing the MoD's overall approach / direction relating to ISTAR;
  • How the use of UAVs, for training and on operations, impacts on airspace and air traffic control.

The Committee would welcome written evidence on these matters. This should be sent to the Clerk of the Defence Committee by Friday 18 April. The Committee intends to hold oral evidence sessions in May / June. Further details and witnesses will be announced in due course.


The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. The Defence Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Ministry of Defence and its associated public bodies.


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