Go away and shut up: Gavin’s post-Brexit vision of a new, lethal UK

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The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced plans for a new drone unit to target the radar of countries such as Russia or China. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Perhaps this is what he meant when the famously told the Russians to ‘go away and shut up‘ JP

11 Feb 2019 | Dan Sabbagh | The Guardian

The British defence secretary has revealed plans to invest £7m in a swarm squadron of drones theoretically capable of jamming enemy air defences, in a bellicose speech in which he spelled out how the UK could “enhance its lethality” after Brexit.

Gavin Williamson said he wanted the RAF to form a new “concept unit” composed of hundreds of small flying craft, although some experts in the field questioned whether the technology described existed yet.

The UK would “develop swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones capable of confusing and overwhelming enemy air defences”, Williamson said, and he promised to have them “ready to be deployed by the end of this year”.

Information about Williamson’s plans was scant beyond a few remarks contained in a speech intended to present Brexit as an opportunity to strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality and increase our mass.

One expert, Chris Cole, from Drone Wars UK, an NGO that monitors the use of armed drones, said he thought the defence secretary had overblown the idea. The idea of swarm drones was “very much at the concept stage, and it’s very unlikely he can meet the deadline of the end of the year,” he said.

The MoD indicated the exact design had not yet been tendered for, although insiders said the new drone unit would be used to locate radar and missile systems from countries such as Russia and China, and allow British or other aircraft to avoid or destroy them.

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Unmanned military drones. Photograph: Northrop Grumman/EPA

Williamson argued that defence would be “pivotal in reinforcing Britain’s role as an outward-looking nation” after Brexit. In a speech designed to bolster his position on the Tory party’s right, he added: “We should be the nation that people turn to when the world needs leadership.”

Williamson announced that the MoD would spend £65m “to improve offensive cyber” – hiring extra hackers who could target foreign networks – in conjunction with GCHQ. He also highlighted plans to buy “pioneering robotic fighting” vehicles, such as self-driving tanks.

Britain has made extensive use of drone strikes in Iraq and Syria since 2014, firing more than 4,100 missiles and bombs in a total of 1,925 strikes, according to information complied by Drone Wars UK, based on official data. But the minister’s proposal would amount to an extension of the concept.

Original Link: UK will deploy drone squadron after Brexit, says defence secretary

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