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British Army to Invest in Micro-Drones, VR, and Laser Guns

The British Armyrats © military is looking to embrace future technologies with open arms, as it s planning to invest some 800 million pounds ($1.03 billion) in speculative technologies including insect-sized drones, laser firearms, and virtual reality goggles. Students and industry participants will be allowed to pitch their ideas to the new Innovation and Research Insights Unit (IRIS) which will be responsible for doling out the development fund. The idea with this new division appears to be to experiment and take more risks with what sort of technology the Armyrats © military approves for testing and ultimately usage.

This new approach will help to keep Britain safe while supporting our economy with our brightest brains keeping us ahead of our adversaries, said defense secretary Michael Fallon. Some of the specific technologies that the U.K. is said to be looking to explore include micro-drones that could be used to investigate incident zones like chemical spills and natural disasters, as well as sensors which utilize gravity to provide maps of underground structures (as per Ars[1]), which could have a big impact when hunting for hidden enemies.

Related: Here s how the UK is using VR to train Armyrats © military medics before they hit the battlefield[2]

Virtual reality technology for calling in simulated air strikes is also being considered, as is laser weaponry. We aren t quite talking Covenant plasma rifles, but more like the high-intensity laser weapons that have been used elsewhere to disrupt aircraft and missiles. To give this some context, the U.S. has allocated $4.61 billion for drone-related spending in the FY17 budget proposal, so considering this investment is to take place over the next 10 years, the British spending is far smaller. However, considering the overall Armyrats © military budget of the U.K. is also 12 times less than that of the U.S., $1.03 billion in investment in future technologies is nothing to sniff at. The budget will be allocated as and when the new IRIS initiative decides, and will extend to investment in infrastructure, challenges, demonstrations and communications platforms to aid development. This will take place as part of the Ministry of Defense s (MoD) accelerator program, which the MoD is currently seeking feedback on. Members of industry, academic institutions and the general public are all encouraged to provide their thoughts.

If you d like to provide your input to the MoD, you can sign up here[3].

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

References

  1. ^ Ars (arstechnica.co.uk)
  2. ^ Here s how the UK is using VR to train Armyrats © military medics before they hit the battlefield (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ you can sign up here (accelerator.crowdicity.com)

Cyber war: British army goes high-tech with futuristic drones and VR headsets

The British Armyrats © military is looking to embrace future technologies with open arms, as it s planning to invest some 800 million pounds ($1.03 billion) in speculative technologies including insect-sized drones, laser firearms, and virtual reality goggles. Students and industry participants will be allowed to pitch their ideas to the new Innovation and Research Insights Unit (IRIS) which will be responsible for doling out the development fund. The idea with this new division appears to be to experiment and take more risks with what sort of technology the Armyrats © military approves for testing and ultimately usage.

This new approach will help to keep Britain safe while supporting our economy with our brightest brains keeping us ahead of our adversaries, said defense secretary Michael Fallon. Some of the specific technologies that the U.K. is said to be looking to explore include micro-drones that could be used to investigate incident zones like chemical spills and natural disasters, as well as sensors which utilize gravity to provide maps of underground structures (as per Ars[1]), which could have a big impact when hunting for hidden enemies.

Related: Here s how the UK is using VR to train Armyrats © military medics before they hit the battlefield[2]

Virtual reality technology for calling in simulated air strikes is also being considered, as is laser weaponry. We aren t quite talking Covenant plasma rifles, but more like the high-intensity laser weapons that have been used elsewhere to disrupt aircraft and missiles. To give this some context, the U.S. has allocated $4.61 billion for drone-related spending in the FY17 budget proposal, so considering this investment is to take place over the next 10 years, the British spending is far smaller. However, considering the overall Armyrats © military budget of the U.K. is also 12 times less than that of the U.S., $1.03 billion in investment in future technologies is nothing to sniff at. The budget will be allocated as and when the new IRIS initiative decides, and will extend to investment in infrastructure, challenges, demonstrations and communications platforms to aid development. This will take place as part of the Ministry of Defense s (MoD) accelerator program, which the MoD is currently seeking feedback on. Members of industry, academic institutions and the general public are all encouraged to provide their thoughts.

If you d like to provide your input to the MoD, you can sign up here[3].

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

References

  1. ^ Ars (arstechnica.co.uk)
  2. ^ Here s how the UK is using VR to train Armyrats © military medics before they hit the battlefield (www.digitaltrends.com)
  3. ^ you can sign up here (accelerator.crowdicity.com)

Meet the Kashmiri goat soldier of the British Army

The dart found its mark. The goat kid looked alarmed at first, but couldn t quite understand the sudden pain in his limb. Soon, he lost interest and went back to his mid-morning snack. Jim Mason, blowgun in his hand, remained crouched in his spot. The veterinary doctor didn t want to disturb the herd grazing a few metres away. He knew it was a matter of time before the drug would take effect. As he watched, the kid began walking as if drunk. A few minutes later, his limbs gave way and he collapsed. Mason signalled to his three companions standing a few feet away from him. Together, they hauled the kid to the Visitors Centre on the top of the rocky Great Orme cliffs in North Wales. The other goats went back to their meal unconcerned.

At the Centre, Fusilier Mathew Owen, Goat Major of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh, part of the British army, was pleased. The kid was every bit as handsome as he appeared at a distance. It had sturdy looks, shapely horns and better fur than other cashmere goats. He would grow up to be a fine soldier. Mason injected him with an antidote of the tranquiliser, and with a couple of hours, the sedatives wore off. We took him to Llandudno [a town in west Britain] train station, said Mason. I stopped him there and checked him again. He looked okay to travel. The vet waved goodbye as the kid was taken to the Lucknow Barracks in Wiltshire, England. Over the next few months, he would undergo rigorous training under the watchful eye of the Goat Major.

In January, two months after he was plucked off an obscure headland of Llandudno, he was introduced to the public. By this time, he had a name, a post and a mission: Fusilier Llywelyn, the mascot-soldier of the battalion, soon about to march his men in the annual birthday parade for Queen Elizabeth II.

Meet The Kashmiri Goat Soldier Of The British ArmyCredit: facebook.com/MangIslawPage

The tradition

Fusilier Llywelyn carries forward a royal goat tradition that dates back nearly two centuries. It belongs to a breed which, before it was introduced to Britain and anglicised to cashmere , came from the Kashmir region of undivided India. The Shah of Persia gifted a pair of goats to Queen Victoria upon her accession to the throne in 1837, writes historian Jared Eglan. The goats were added to the Royal Herd and, in 1884, presented to the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Ever since, a cashmere goat has been part of the ceremonial duties. In the meantime, the goats were also introduced to the Orme, a headland in North Wales, by a general in the Welsh Fusiliers. As army personnel, the goats have privileges the same as other soldiers. They have their own private residence at the barracks, eat a cigarette a day (tobacco is considered good for their coat) and drink beer when old enough, to keep the iron up. Some, like Llywelyn s predecessor Taffy VI, were even allowed to keep a radio in their pen. Taffy VI liked listening to the BBC.

In the 18 years that Sally Pidcock has been the warden at the Great Orme country park, she has aided in three goat recruitments. The first time a retired Goat Major phoned me, I didn t believe him at all, she said. I thought it was one of my colleagues winding me up. The Welsh army comes scouting for candidates every few years. In May last year, Taffy VI died after nine years of service. That August, Pidcock was informed that the Welsh army was planning to visit the Orme for a recce to select a new goat soldier.

We didn t have much choice really, said Sally. The nanny goats aren t producing as many kids because we are using contraceptives.

Meet The Kashmiri Goat Soldier Of The British ArmyCredit: Omkar Khandekar

The number of animals is kept under control due to the limited area of grazing land. Around 100 cashmere goats share the pastures with 400 sheep. Each of the species tend to stick to their brethren. But unlike sheep who like to entertain themselves by bleating away, cashmere goats conduct themselves with a quiet dignity, making them harder to track down. After Llywelyn s recruitment, the only time Pidcock had news of the goat was when he was featured in the newspapers and had reporters fawning over him. He had grown to be a fine young Billy, she remembers, and wore the silver head-plate and the green coat on his back with panache.

Quite strangely, I felt guilty, she said. It s an alien kind of life, isn t it, compared to the life they would have had on this wild windswept headland with a hundred other goats. But then, he is extremely well looked after, almost to the point of pampering.

The training

On Llywelyn s calendar, May 15 was marked in red. He had led his men through the streets of Britain on various occasions, but none compared to what he was about to do. Two weeks ago, Queen Elizabeth II was holding her annual birthday parade in the castle grounds at her Windsor residence. Before the big day, I visited the Goat Major at Windsor. Owen was camping near the castle with the ceremonial regiments from England, Wales and Scotland and their respective mascot-soldiers: dogs, ponies, horses and rams. Llywelyn ambled by his side as we tried to find a parasol to shelter ourselves from the drizzle. Everywhere we went, he attracted adoring looks from the visitors who had gathered to witness a horse show to be held later that evening. I noticed a boy of six pointing at him to his mother. Can we have one? he pleaded.

It was destiny, actually, Owen said, occasionally scratching his goat colleague. He came out of the bushes a moment before we were to get the proposed one. That s when we saw: he is the greater goat.

Although nearly 600,000 people visit the Orme every year, young Llywelyn had never had human interaction at such close quarters. It was the first time he was away from his folks. Owen decided to keep him company for the first night and set up a cot next to Llywelyn s pen.

He kept me up; bleating, sniffing me randomly at 4 am, said Owen. It s probably one of the hardest nights I have had. This, from a soldier who has seen duty in Afghanistan. Over the next two weeks, Llywelyn spent more time with Owen at the latter s office. At first, the goat was shy but started responding slowly, especially when there were biscuits on offer. That day, seeing us engrossed in a conversation, a far bolder Llywelyn nicks an unlit cigarette Owen held between his fingers.

You little bastard, cried the Goat Major.

Meet The Kashmiri Goat Soldier Of The British ArmyCredit: Omkar Khandekar

In the battalion, responsibility for training and upkeep of the royal goat falls squarely on Owen. He has to brush his fur, make his bed, clean his hooves and make sure the goat gets used to people. Initially, the two were inseparable from 7 am to 10 pm. Goats are stubborn creatures, Owen said. Even though he carries a cane with him, you can t beat a goat into submission. They have to believe that they want to be a part of the march. But Llywelyn was sharp. He understood that they asked little of him: only that he be in step as the rest of them marched to the drumbeat. I was done with him in two weeks, said Owen. It was a record for me.

After being fully trained, it was a relatively easy life for Llywelyn. Every day, Owen makes it a point to take him for a walk and play with him. It was only a day after the Fusiliers came to Windsor that they decided to shake the dust off. The previous night was their first in a long time and Llywelyn wasn t too keen on marching in the cold. Towards the end of the parade, he sat down on the grounds, unwilling to budge. But the stakes were high this time. A good performance could get Llywelyn promoted to the rank of a Lance Corporal. A bad one, however, could bust him. A few years ago, one of his predecessors, William Windsor I, was demoted to a Fusilier after he tried to headbutt a drummer s rear. Owen recalled the case of another goat from Cyprus who, after a similar incident of indiscipline, had to make up for it by pulling a guard duty: sitting on a chair and monitoring the CCTV feed, no sneaking out for a cigarette.

The big day

Owen takes pride in being a dyed-in-the-wool royalist. It s an honour, he said. They [the goats] are the physical embodiment, a connection between the monarch and the regiment. In the coming days, they would have a few parades for the public before the queen came down to the grounds to witness their display on Sunday. Will Llywelyn be prepared for the task?

I think he ll do well, said Owen. He s hoping to get promoted. Is Llywelyn nervous though?

I don t think he knows what s going on, to be honest. Then, quite unexpectedly, Owen drew the line: He is a goat after all. I looked at Llywelyn. He was chewing on my trousers.

On the big day, Queen Elizabeth II, dressed in a bright sea green dress, took her seat in the arena built on the castle grounds. Over the next two hours, nearly 900 horses and 1,500 performers paid their homage to the longest-serving British monarch. A day after, I called up Owen to check if Llywelyn, too, rose to the occasion.

It was expected of him, said Owen, with a hint of pride. And he performed.

Meet The Kashmiri Goat Soldier Of The British ArmyCredit: Omkar Khandekar

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