Adam Price’s Blog

The Blog of Adam Price AS/MP, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Adam Price MP / AS - Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

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Archive for August 6th, 2009

6th August 2009

From Armageddon to the Tywi Valley…

The development of West Wales into a centre of excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Parc Aberporth, while it undoubtedly offers some economic opportunities, is fraught with moral problems.  Most of this is due to the primarily military purpose of UAVs – used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is, to say the least, distasteful and pretty instructive that the Ministry of Defence has chosen to base its ominously sounding billion-pound Watchkeeper Unmanned Air System on the Israeli designed Hermes 450 that has been used in attacks on civilian populations in Gaza.  Do we really want this technology associated with a peace-loving land like Wales?  The fact that the Watchkeeper – built by the UK manufacturer Thales – and now being tested at Aberporth had its maiden flight on the Israeli air field of Megiddo – next to the mountain Har Megiddo, or Armageddon in the King James version of the Bible – certainly sends a chill down my spine.

As part of the ongoing plans to develop Parc Aberporth as a global centre for this technology the Welsh Government has just completed a consultation exercise to establish a segregated air space for testing the vehicles all the way over to the Sennybridge military range in Powys.  Now three experienced former MoD employees have gone on the record in claiming that the proposal is unsafe and wil “represent a heightened hazard to persons and property” in a much broader “Land Range Danger Area” which is populated and could be effected if a UAV malfunctioned or lost communication.  The detailed report – which can be downloaded here is written by a former Head of Site at Aberporth Range, a former Contract Manager for Llanbedr Airfield in north Wales, and a former Aberporth Range Manager – concludes that “the West Wales Airport/Parc Aberporth is the wrong location for a UK UAV development centre.”  it’s difficult to disagree.