31st March 2010
Nearly all politicians in west Wales either support the Parc Aberporth UAV testing zone without question; support it for non-military use only (but still fail to condemn it even though its use for the foreseeable future will be overwhelmingly military); or support it for civilian and “defensive” military use only.
Those of us against military use entirely would argue that locating people with a UAV in order that they can be killed with a bomb dropped by a war plane, rather blurs the offensive/defensive distinction. For those politicians who still think they know which is which, this report from www.uavtrainingconf.com should finally disabuse them.
The UK could integrate a light-weight weapon with its Thales UK/Elbit Systems Watchkeeper 450 tactical unmanned air vehicles, operations of which should begin from late next year.
“We are conducting analysis to investigate the contribution that an armed Watchkeeper UAV system could make in current and future operations,”
confirms minister for international defence and security Baroness Taylor.
Taylor’s comment represents the first time that the MoD has acknowledged the possibility of arming the British Army’s future WK450 air vehicles. One likely candidate is Thales Air Systems’ lightweight multirole missile (LMM), which has previously been shown at exhibitions with a full-scale model of the WK450.
WK450 air vehicle Flight-test activities should start before year-end at the ParcAberporth UAV centre of excellence in west Wales. The Royal Air Force already operates General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper UAVs carrying Raytheon GBU-12 Paveway II precision-guided bombs and Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles.
So “Watchkeeper” becomes “Watchkiller”. What rationale will they invent now in order to continue supporting Parc Aberporth?