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back to article MoD proposes Salisbury Plain spy-plane droid playground

The UK Ministry of Defence wants to expand the airspace it uses for training flying-robot surveillance operators from the British Army. Drone aircraft formerly flew mainly above traditional army exercise areas on Salisbury Plain, but next-gen kit will need to be higher up and further away from the ground action if training is to …

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Black Helicopters

Security

"subject to the 1998 Data Protection Act"

Doesn't that allow you to have a copy of the data in question if you pay a few quid? Marginally better than leaving it on a train, I suppose...

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Dead Vulture

Has LP missed this?

Thales, the French company with "Design Leadership" (ie acting as go-between) for Watchkeeper has teamed up with a Spanish company to offer a 'special deal' to the French & Spanish governments on the purchase of the "Medium-Altitude Long Endurance" UAVs "they" build...

"MALE" (as it's called) is based on the Elbit-made Hermes 450 UAV... (and just happens to look rather like the exact kit offered to the British government for a cost that includes all the 'design and development' work Thales need to do)... but MALE is quite a bit cheaper than Watchkeeper...

Maybe MoD(PE) should cancel Watchkeeper and just wait for Thales' MALE UAV to come online... since it's cheaper and will have the benefit of Thales' extensive experience in UAV design and construction...

Vulture, cos it just about sums up the European Air and Defence industries when it comes to "supplying" "quality" parts to the British Armed Forces.

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Stop

The new maps

I notice the far South West of area A comes pretty close to Compton Abbas Airfield. So there'll be something for pilots taking off there to contend with apart from Gap-Toothed aging songstresses trying to close them down

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Boffin

Has LP missed this? Nah! not LP!

I am sure LP is aware of EuroMALE and that it is probably way more cheap than Watchkeeper. It will be for PRECISELY this reason that the beloved MoD will continue to buy Watchkeeper. They truly believe that as long as they throw more of our money at projects "they thought of" the country gets a "better" solution.

The DPA 98 works like this.

You are not aware of just how many different bits of gumment have information about you

This is good (in gumment eyes)

Should you get uppity and ask a bit of gumment to show you what they think they know about you, the revelation is not free

A civil servant who is angling for early retirement in any case is given a piece of paper with the information about you on it and given strict instructions about which train upon which to abandon the paper

The "breach" is timed to occur on a really bad news day for the gumment as oil goes to 160 bucks a barrel

The civil servant gets his early retirement and a golden goodbye that helps to buy that cottage near Llandudno

You are not aware of just how many different bits of gumment have information about you

The status quo has been maintained; this is good

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DPA

You are right James it does, unfortunately there are the usual get outs on national security grounds and I'm sure they'll say that relasing the photos would give intelligence on the capability of the cameras on the drones. (Even if those capabilities were already in the public domain from other sources)

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At present, manned and unmanned aircraft can't share airspace over the UK

Really? So an Airbus / Boing passenger jet with the flight crew snoring heavily and the autopilot doing all the work counts as manned does it?

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Thumb Down

DPA = Doesn't Protect Anything

Doesn't the DPA just stop the government disclosing the info to others (unless that say they're going to, of course). I don't think it has any effect on them using the info themselves given that it's obviously for national security/crime reduction/anti-whatsit purposes (fill in the latest government bete noir of your choice).

And even if they broke the DPA the ICO wouldn't actually do anything about it.

So what sort of an assurance is that exactly?

DPA? Pah!

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Silver badge
Black Helicopters

@Compton Abbas Airfield

Are you sure it's not because Madge wants to sunbathe in the nuddy and doesn't want pilots peeking down on her?

Of course I'm sure our Military would never use their spy drones for any such behaviour...!

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Beware

of aerospace coys bearing male gifts:

Pedro - what eez ze sensor fit

AeS Coy - mon brave, in zis special offeer it eez ze box brownie, wiz the bonus of a spare for every ten aircraft.

Pedro - but I 'ere ze Breetish are getting lots of exciting things

AeS Coy - zis is true but they plan to use their aircraft whereas you just want them to line up on the ze airfield zo zat ze colonel can inspect them wiz occasional flights over the Costa del Sol

Pedro - 'ow many ground stations

AeS Coy - mon brave, for you we offeer ze one, but it eez the articulated air conditioned passion wagon version, your pilots will luuv eet, zo will ze laadeez from the Costa del Sol

Pedro - what about the support contract

AeS Coy - mon cher, that eez extra, depending on the level of support and 'ow hours more than 10 you fly each year. Our offeer starts at 25% purchase price per year.

Pedro - and the training package

AeS Coy - - - - - well you can guess

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Skynet

This is presumably a result of the launch of the third PFI funded (at an eye watering and continuing cost from Paradigm) Skynet satellite last week and a desire to train sky jockeys in the UK rather than at Creech in Arizona. It might also signal some turf warring between the Army and the Air Force about which uniform the sky jockeys wear before they can play with this latest military toy.

Desperately needed in Afghanistan because there is only one Grim Reaper in the skies there trying to do the work of the Nimrods which they can't do because they can't refuel to stay on station and are waiting to be replaced because their replacement is four years late and squillions over budget. etc.,... and the re-fueeling tankers orders haven't been placed yet because the PFI funding has collpased because the monoline insureers credit has gone down the toilet, so it's carry on using the 42 year old VC 10's and Tri-Star tankers for the meanwhile etc.,

But Gatekeeper AKA out of date Israeli cobbled up jobby has some fantastic new features , now if it isn't cloudy or raining and we have got a downlink working with Skynet, you just train this gadget here and youget a superb picture ....oooops I'll try that again....etc

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Happy

Do these things teleport?

You say "Private pilots in light aircraft would typically operate below the robo-reserved altitudes anyway, and shouldn't be much bothered."

Are the robot planes able to materialise at their operational altitude, or will they go up through the levels the light aircraft are typically operating in? Just wondered...

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Paris Hilton

@Graham

Naked 50 year old - arghhhhhhhhhh. Now if it was the Naturalist's female football team training ground nearby.......

You don't need a spydrone to see Paris naked, just an internet connection

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@AC, missing things

> Maybe MoD(PE) should cancel Watchkeeper

There hasn't been a Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive for well over ten years. It became the Defence Procurement Agency, and now that too has dissolved and merged with the Defence Logistics Agency to form Defence Equipment and Support.

Org change. What we do best.

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Go

it's got my vote..

(for what it's worth) if it's used to sort out the endless bl**dy traffic jams on the A303!

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Bronze badge

Doodlebug tipping

I wonder if you come in high from the rear without being seen, you can tip the UAV in to instability like the Spitfires used to do with doodlebugs in WWII. Should be even easier in a high wing, but they might notice Cessna tyre prints on the wreckage.

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