Most military targets of strategic importance are very small in size. Though some of them may get spatially resolved, most cannot be detected due to lack of adequate spectral resolution. Hyperspectral data, acquired over hundreds of narrow contiguous wavelength bands, are extremely suitable for most military target detection applications. Target detection, however, still remains complicated due to a host of other issues. These include, first, the heavy volume of hyperspectral data, which leads to computational complexities; second, most materials in nature exhibit spectral variability and remain unpredictable; and third, most target detection algorithms are based on spectral modeling and availability of a priori target spectra is an essential requirement, a condition difficult to meet in practice. Independent component analysis (ICA) is a new evolving technique that aims at finding components that are statistically independent or as independent as possible. It does not have any requirement of a priori availability of target spectra and is an attractive alternative. This paper, presents a study of military target detection using four spectral matching algorithms, namely, orthogonal subspace projection (OSP), constrained energy minimisation, spectral angle mapper and spectral correlation mapper, four anomaly detection algorithms, namely, OSP anomaly detector (OSPAD), Reed–Xiaoli anomaly detector (RXD), uniform target detector (UTD), a combination of RXD–UTD. The performances of these spectrally modeled algorithms are then also compared with ICA using receiver operating characteristic analysis. The superior performance of ICA indicates that it may be considered a viable alternative for military target detection.