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Royal Navy Unveils Robot Spy Speedboat 

The 34ft boat can skim across the waves at more than 50kts to track high speed targets, while navigating and dodging other ships without the control of a human.

Naval commanders believe the Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed (MAST) could herald a robot fleet of high-speed craft packed with sensors to carry out spy and scouting missions.

The unarmed test craft is one of 40 prototypes to be tested by the Royal Navy in a major robot war game off the coast of northern Scotland in October.

The dawn of unmanned vehicles is likely to have the same revolutionary effect on naval warfare as the birth of flight and aircraft carriers, according to the navy’s Fleet Robotics Officer.

Cdr Peter Pipkin said: “This is a chance to take a great leap forward in maritime systems – not to take people out of the loop but to enhance everything they do, to extend our reach, our look, our timescales, our efficiency using intelligent and manageable robotics at sea.”

MAST has been built for the MoD’s defence laboratories and is based on an existing Bladerunner speedboat, but fitted with sensors and robotic technology that is still largely classified.

The boat has a sophisticated anti-collision system to avoid hazards and other craft, but current laws meant that when it was unveiled on the Thames, it had to have a human coxswain on board.

While the MAST is only a test platform for new technology and will not enter service as it stands, sources said it could it pave the way for future robots vessels that can track, shadow or spy on other craft as well as loitering off coastlines.

Elizabeth Quintana, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Navy was looking at unmanned vehicles to take on “dull, dirty, and dangerous” jobs.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Canada Participates in Just 3% Coalition Airstrikes Against ISIL in Iraq and Syria

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Fight Doesn’t Match Tory Rhetoric: Canadian military aircraft have flown 1,320 sorties, or individual missions, over Iraq and Syria since last year. That accounts for 2.7 per cent of the 47,705 total sorties flown by coalition aircraft since the war against ISIL started.

Despite Conservative warnings about the “horrific” threat posed by the ISIL, new figures show Canadian military aircraft have conducted less than three per cent of all coalition missions in Iraq and Syria.

“Comparing Canada’s contribution to other allies is difficult because each participating country reports differently. But defence expert David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says Canadian aircraft flew about six per cent of all coalition missions during the war in Libya, and about 10 per cent in Kosovo.”

The war against ISIL figured prominently on the campaign trail Monday as Prime Minister Stephen Harper used a stop in Markham, Ont. to pledge that a re-elected Conservative government would provide more assistance for religious minorities and refugees in the Middle East.

Harper went on to criticize Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Tom Mulcair for promising to end Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIL, saying that humanitarian aid alone won’t solve the crisis.

“What is happening in the areas controlled by (ISIL) is really something we have not seen in millennia. It’s just beyond horrific,” he said, adding, “We are a country that can contribute militarily and in the humanitarian sense, and we are doing both.”

But a Citizen analysis raised questions about whether Canada’s military contributions in the fight against ISIL match Harper’s warnings.

Defence Department figures show Canadian military aircraft have flown 1,320 sorties, or individual missions, over Iraq and Syria since last year. That accounts for 2.7 per cent of the 47,705 total sorties flown by coalition aircraft since the war against ISIL started.

Comparing Canada’s contribution to other allies is difficult because each participating country reports differently. But defence expert David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says Canadian aircraft flew about six per cent of all coalition missions during the war in Libya, and about 10 per cent in Kosovo. Read the rest of this entry »