Posts Tagged arms trade
Flight Global reports that the UK armed forces will test the Watchkeeper drone at Canadian Forces Base, Suffield, Alberta in 2014 and beyond. That the UK would test Watchkeeper there was anticipated from at least 2006 as indicated in the Environmental Assessment for that year.
British forces have long used Canadian Forces Base, Suffield for training, calling it British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS). There is already a drone test facility at Suffield. It isn’t clear whether the British drones will be tested there, or as autonomous units.
TTU Online has reported that British military officials will invite French military officers to join in the testing of Watchkeeper, as part of the ongoing effort of the British military industrial establishment to sell the French a few Watchkeeper systems.
Watchkeeper is an Anglo-Israeli-French drone, based on the Israeli Hermes 450 drone used widely in the suppression of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Mitchell Anderson, writing in The Tyee, argues that a huge part of Greek debt was racked up buying unneeded arms from its allies in Britain, Germany, France and the United States. He notes that Greece’s armed forces are much stronger than needed and that Greece’s only realistic enemy is also a strong NATO ally-Turkey.
It’s a great article, well worth reading in full.
Chile is buying medium and long range UAV’s, with radar and thermal imaging capabilities, in a competion that is now shortlisted to three Israeli companies. Almost certainly these would include Elbit Systems, and IAI, but the third Israeli company is unknown at the moment.
It isn’t certain which drones are being compared, nor is it clear how big the contract is, and how many drones the Chilean military plans to buy.
This adds to a long list of countries that have purchased Israeli drones.
In 27 June 2006, Miriam Ziv, in her role as Deputy Director General for Strategic Affair, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made a presentation to the United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation in the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in all its Aspects.
In it, she decried the proliferation of small arms in the world and called for action to reduce small arms transfers to terrorist groups in the ME threatening Israel. She called for control of transfers of small arms to ‘non-state’ actors. She claimed that Israel had reduced the level of handgun ownership in Israel by one third.
Yet she did not mention that Israel still has a highly armed population particularly in the illegal settlements of the West Bank and that armed settlers are intimidating to the occupied Palestinian population.This undated document shows some of the people who may own handguns in Israel, including armed settlers in the occupied West Bank. Nor did she mention that Israel is one of the primary proliferators of arms in the world, especially drones, and has sold them far and wide, including to the unstable regime of Georgia, and to the autocratic state of Russia. YNET cites a report that claims that 2/3 of Israel’s arms production is exported.
In this light her comments merely seem self serving.
In fact Miriam Ziv seems unable to see Israeli weapons. After the incident with the Free Gaza boat, in which nine people were killed by the Israeli military, Ziv apparently claimed that Israeli soldiers were only armed with paintball guns.
The Government of Alberta has dedicated resources to supporting and developing the arms industry in Alberta, citing the location of defence establishments in Alberta, for example Camp Wainwright, Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, Suffield Base
It recently published information supporting the arms industry in Alberta.
The ability to assassinate enemies is emerging as the key feature of military strategy. It is widespread policy in the American attacks on Taliban targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan and it has long been the practise of the Israeli military enforcing its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, or attacking its enemies in Lebanon.
What these conflicts have in common is a powerful military force fighting an ‘asymetrical’ battle against a guerilla enemy with widespread support in the local population.
Big battles are avoided by the guerilla enemy, and the western military forces are unwilling to risk their soldiers by having the soldiers seek out the enemy in person in the general population.
Therefore the strategy has emerged of trying to identify the enemy by remote sensing aboard drones through various ‘signatures’ —appearance, behaviour, etc. Drones are emerging as the platform used to carry remote sensing equipment, and often to carry weapons of assassination stealthily within range of the enemy.
Problems with this strategy:
1. When the war is unjust, new strategies for fighting don’t improve the outcome.
2. There isn’t any technology capable of protecting nearby non combatants from armed drone attacks, despite the hype of the military and the arms companies.
3. Remote sensing has proved wildly inaccurate in separating out acceptable ‘targets’ from people who just look like, or behave like the targets, with the result that very often the wrong targets are attacked.
4. This strategy results not from initial successes, but the paucity of success from other strategies.
5. The strategy presents new moral and legal traps. Taking a war to an enemy enmeshed in a local population which supports them has often led to moral challenges. Two armies in full fledged combat can claim that they can’t reasonably protect all nearby non combattants. But an army which claims that it can identify individual combattants for assassination, opens itself up to charges of murder and war crimes when it fails to distinguish between the ‘enemy’ and uninvolved citizens.
(Of course, the killing of nearby noncombattants may be an unspoken but intentional act arising from drone surveillance and attacks, intended as a terror device to cause the local population to reject the insurgent forces as too dangerous to have around).
Despite the limitations of ‘assassination by remote sensing’ there is a strong shift to drones for many reasons. Defence departments see big savings from replacing extremely expensive jet aircraft with drone fleets. They see the opportunity to reduce risk for flyers and foot soldiers, and reduce the cost of highly trained professional pilots and aircraft maintenance personel. Probably they reason that distancing their own combattants from attacks on the enemy will reduce distress and ‘post traumatic stress syndrome’. Fewer traumatised soldiers means less dissatisfaction in the ranks, and lower post discharge medical costs.
But of course cost savings are probably an illusion. Drone fleets beget countermeasures, and ultimately a new weapon like drones simply results in the proliferation of weapons, and a change in tactics by the other side.
(This is an outline article that will be fleshed out in due time)
Watchkeeper is an updated Hermes 450, which Israel’s Elbit Systems has sold or leased to many armed forces, and which has been used over the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza. Elbit will be a key player in the development of Watchkeeper which contains much Elbit technology. It also owns 51% of U-TacS, which builds Watchkeeper, and will have a large part to play in the operation and maintenance of the Watchkeeper fleet. Unsurprisingly, Thales takes the lead in publicising Watchkeeper, no doubt due to the sensitivities about having an Israeli company so integrally involved in UK arms purchases.
The new Watchkeeper was initially tested in Israel at Elbit’s test flying range at Megiddo, Israel. The purpose of the Israeli tests was to make sure that the Watchkeeper was safe to fly in the UK. (Why Israelis or Palestinians should be sacrificed to keep Britons safe wasn’t discussed. Perhaps they weren’t informed).
In April 2010 it was flown on a twenty minute flight at Parc Aberporth, the Qinetic test range in Wales, which was extended for the purpose.
Later, the flights will take place over Salisbury Plain and will be launched from Qinetic’s Boscombe Field facility at Salisbury. A training facility will be operated by Thales at Salisbury.
Thales claims that the Hermes have flown at +55C in Iraq, and that Watchkeeper will be tested at temperatures ranging from -34C to +49C.
Watchkeeper drones will initially be deployed along with the existing Hermes 450 drones used by the UK in operations in Afghanistan.
The Watchkeeper joint MOD/Thales Service and Training delivery teams will be based at Abbey Wood, Bristol and at Larkhill Salisbury. They will be assisted by Thales support personnel from Leicester and Crawley. (The ones from Leicester would presumably be U-TacS employees from the Watchkeeper manufacturing facility).
Troops from 32 Regiment Royal Artillery will train at Parc Aberporth and later at Salibury, as they are the ones who will ultimately control the drones in the field. Employees from Thales (actually U-TacS?) will handle launches and landings, and military personnel will handle the remainder of the flight.
The sponsor of the conference is Simlat, an Israeli simulation company based in Herzliya, Israel, near Tel Aviv. Simlat is also participiating in the 2010 AUVSI Israel First Conference, to be held 6 October in Beer-Sheeva, Israel.
Simlat has produced simulators for Elbit Systems 450, for Aegis (which Aegis?) , for United Dynamics and others.
Presumably the training simulation technology developed for Elbit Systems, also works for the UK Watchkeeper system. Thus Simlat is positioned to provide training for Watchkeeper operators, (including when Watchkeeper becomes an armed system?)
Chairman of the Board at Simlat is Moshe Ortasse, former head of the electronics division at Israel Aircraft Industries. Cofounder Yuval Peshin, President, is an engineer and former intelligence officer for the IDF. Also on the board is Mati Lesham, a former general in the IDF. Yoram Hessel, another board member, is a former high ranking Mossad official. The final member of the board, Boaz Gruener, was a major of the Israeli intelligence corps.
Hessel has a wide range of other involvements, including the Law Enforcement Exchange Program, which takes US police to Israel to demonstrate Israel law enforcement, (and presumably develop bonds between American police and the Israeli police). Hessel is extremely active in promoting the Israeli perspective among international decision makers.
It is always surprising how companies based in a country conducting an illegal occupation, policies of ethnic cleansing, and in violation of many UN directives can be so closely ingratiated into the military affairs of the western democracies.
Simlat recently advertised its desire to raise $2 million on the website of canadaisraelchamber.com claiming a large UAV/UAS market in Canada, and therefore presumably a market for simulation training services.