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Robotics Engineering Company Mark Roberts Motion Control Wins The Queen’s Award

London, UK, 25th April 2017, Mark Roberts Motion Control Ltd., industry leaders in moving camera robotics receives the highly prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2017.Mark Roberts Motion Control specialises in precision motion and control of camera movement for a wide variety of applications, from sports broadcast to feature film and commercial visual effects.

The committed and dedicated team designs and creates solutions that have seen the company’s export sales and brand reputation substantially... Source: RealWire

UKCloud wins 2017 Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation

London – 21 April 2017 – UKCloud, the easy to adopt, easy to use and easy to leave assured cloud services company, can today reveal that it has received its first Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation.

The Queen’s Award for Enterprise scheme is highly competitive, rewarding businesses for outstanding achievements in International Trade, Innovation, Sustainable Development and for promoting opportunity through social mobility.

The Innovation category awards companies that go above and beyond in... Source: RealWire

UK.gov confirms it won’t be buying V-22 Ospreys for new aircraft...

Also confirms earlier operational date for HMS Queen Elizabeth Britain is not buying V-22 Osprey aircraft to fly from its new aircraft carriers, the government has confirmed.…

National Audit Office: Brit aircraft carrier project is fine and dandy…...

Small matter of an ongoing personnel shortage, though The National Audit Office has confirmed that F-35 fighter jets should be flying from new British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth by the year 2020, if all goes to plan.…

This is where the Navy will park its 75,000-ton aircraft carriers

It was supposed to be a 40,000-ton US supply ship on the day, though The Ministry of Defence has spent around £200m rebuilding a jetty at HM Naval Base Portsmouth ready for the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth later this year. El Reg got invited to watch an American supply ship test it out.…

Bees are even smarter than we realized

In tests, the insects learned to use tools they would never find in nature.

US Navy runs into snags with aircraft carrier’s electric plane-slingshot

EMAL system was nearly bought by the UK. Bullet dodged? Oh no The US Navy is having difficulties with its latest aircraft carrier's Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) – the same system which the UK mooted fitting to its new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers. The US Department of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOTE) revealed yesterday, in its end-of-year report [PDF] for financial year 2016, that the EMALS fitted to the new nuclear-powered carrier USS Gerald R. Ford put "excessive airframe stress" on aircraft being launched. This stress "will preclude the Navy from conducting normal operations of the F/A-18A-F and EA-18G from CVN 78", according to DOTES, which said the problem had first been noticed in 2014. In addition, EMALS could not "readily" be electrically isolated for maintenance, which DOTE warned "will preclude some types of EMALS and AAG (Advanced Arresting Gear) maintenance during flight operations", decreasing their operational availability. The Gerald R. Ford is supposed to be able to launch 160 sorties in a 12-hour day – an average of one takeoff or landing every 4.5 minutes. She is supposed to be able to surge to 270 sorties in a 24-hour period. Britain considered fitting EMALS to its two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers right back at the design stage. Indeed, the ability to add catapults and arrester gear to the ships was specified right from the start. Lewis Page, late of this parish, summed up what happened when the government tried to exercise that option: "... it later got rescinded, on the grounds that putting catapults into the ships was not going to cost £900m – as the 2010 [Strategic Defence and Security Review] had estimated – but actually £2bn for [HMS] Prince of Wales and maybe £3bn for Queen Elizabeth. This would double the projected price of the two ships." The Aircraft Carrier Alliance – heavily dominated by BAE Systems – had not designed the new carriers to have EMALS fitted at all, taking advantage of naïve MoD civil servants who didn't get a price put into the contract for the conversion work. Bernard Gray, chief of defence materiel, told Parliament in 2013: Because the decision to go STOVL [that is the initial decision for jumpjets] was taken in, from memory, 2002, no serious work had been done. It had been noodled in 2005, but no serious work had been done on it. It was not a contract-quality offer; it was a simple assertion that that could be done, but nobody said, "It can be done at this price", and certainly nobody put that in a contract. The US woes with EMALS are not complete showstoppers. EMALS is a new design, technology and piece of equipment, up against mature steam-powered catapult tech which hasn't really changed in more than five decades. Gerald R. Ford is the first-of-class of the new breed of US aircraft carriers which will see that country's navy through to the second half of this century. That said, the fact that problems identified in 2014 are still a problem two years later, and make it impossible to safely deploy fully-loaded combat aircraft, may come back to bite the US Navy. Oddly, Gerald R. Ford's timetable for introduction into service – handover to the USN early this year, flight testing in 2018 and 2019, and operational deployment by 2021 – closely mirrors that of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Britain's new aircraft carriers have no catapult system at all. The only fast jets capable of flying from them are Harriers (as operated by the US Marine Corps) and the F-35B. HMS Queen Elizabeth, whose sea trials date keeps slipping back to later and later this year, is planned to carry about 20 F-35s on her first operational deployment to the South China Sea in 2021. Sources tell The Register that plans to operate F-35s from land bases once they are delivered to the UK have been shelved in favour of getting Queen Elizabeth to sea with as large an air wing as possible. Previously, military planners were working on the assumption that just 12 jets would be carried aboard QE on her first operational deployment, with the rest left in the UK for the RAF to play with. Sponsored: Next gen cybersecurity. Visit The Register's security hub

British military laser death ray cannon contract still awarded, MoD confirms

Sound familiar? Yes, you read it on El Reg last July The Ministry of Defence has today re-announced for the third time that it has awarded a £30m contract to build a great big feck-off laser cannon for zapping the Queen's enemies. Originally awarded in July 2016 to the Dragonfire consortium, the Laser Directed Energy Weapons (LDEW) contract immediately stalled after a challenge to the contract award by an unknown number of losing companies. The MoD eventually settled the contract dispute last September, stating at the time that the deal had gone through. While exciting, in the way that setting about an old shed with a sledgehammer and a couple of gallons of petrol is exciting, the LDEW project is certainly not new. The Dragonfire consortium – made up of BAE Systems, Leonardo (formerly known as Finmeccanica, parent company of infamous British helicopter firm AgustaWestland), Cambridge-based Marshall Defence and Aerospace, and Hampshire-based defence research company Qinetiq – is charged with building the demonstrator weapon, and a working prototype is hoped for by 2019. It will have to meet five criteria to satisfy defence chiefs, including tracking targets in all weathers, maintaining sustained operation over a period of time, and various safety-related criteria, mostly aimed at ensuring the laser's operators or innocent bystanders don't get accidentally fried. Harriet Baldwin, minister for defence procurement, said in a canned statement: "The UK has long enjoyed a reputation as a world leader in innovation and it is truly ground-breaking projects like the Laser Directed Energy Weapon which will keep this country ahead of the curve." The obvious long-term practical application for the laser would be aboard a warship, and perhaps one of the first aged Type 23 frigates to be retired in the next five or six years could have her hull life extended to serve as a trials platform. As the press get excited over the new laser cannon, however, it is important to remember that the Type 45 air defence destroyers are not completely reliable when operating in warm seas, HMS Queen Elizabeth's sea trials date is quietly slipping back, F-35 deliveries still continue at a pathetic drip-feed rate, and the RN still has no replacement anti-ship missiles lined up for when its current weapons are retired in 2018 – though sources tell El Reg that the UK is exploring options for this with France. Various news outlets including the BBC, the Sun and the Daily Star (traditionally a very fertile ground for planted Andy McNabb-type tales of carefully anonymised derring-do from the front line) decided to run this hoary old news about the laser cannon today as if it was actually new. It's one thing to get excited over a new giant zapper but it's begun to wear a bit thin after the third repetition without any actual progress having been made. ® Sponsored: Next gen cybersecurity.
Visit The Register's security hub

UK 'Snooper's Charter' Surveillance Bill Becomes Law

It requires telecom firms to store customers' Internet Connection Records for 12 months.

A controversial UK surveillance bill has become law, despite efforts to stop it.

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 today received the final stamp of approval from the Queen—a practice called Royal Assent.
It requires telecom firms to store customers' Internet Connection Records for 12 months.

These records include top-level domains you visited, but not sub-pages (so it would show pcmag.com but not pcmag.com/apple or pcmag.com/android, for example).

This data would be accessible by law enforcement and intelligence agencies provided they secure the necessary warrants and judicial approvals, and be used to "disrupt terrorist attacks and prosecute suspects, according to the UK Home Office.

"The Internet presents new opportunities for terrorists and we must ensure we have the capabilities to confront this challenge," Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in a statement. "But it is also right that these powers are subject to strict safeguards and rigorous oversight."

That oversight includes an Investigatory Powers Commissioner to oversee the program, and protections for journalistic and legally privileged material, as well as tough sanctions for those abusing their power.

Security advocates, however, still have concerns about the law, which has been dubbed the "Snooper's Charter."

As Big Brother Watch notes, for example, a 2000 version of the bill provided 28 government organizations access to communications data. "Under the new Investigatory Powers Bill, this has now been extended to 48 organizations which now also have the power to snoop on citizen's browsing histories."

It also "extends the level of access police and intelligence agencies have to citizen's communications data and allows them to collect information on people's phone calls, text messages and social media conversations upon request," the group says.

A petition calling for an end to the Investigatory Powers Act launched earlier this year and has secured more than 138,000 digital signatures.
Since it got more than 100,000 signatures, the issue will get debated in Parliament, but that occured after the bill had passed through its parliamentary stage, so the debate shouldn't result in any major changes.

"This government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe," Rudd said.

Some provisions in the bill require testing and will not be set into motion "for some time," according to the Home Office.

All other mandates—like Internet Connection Records—are moving forward as the new law replaces 2014's Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, which sunsets on Dec. 31.

Queen signs the Investigatory Powers Act into law

Your homes may be your castles, but your browsing histories belong to UK.gov IPBill Queen Elizabeth II today signs off on Parliament's Investigatory Powers Act, officially making it law. QEII not only had the last word on the new legislation — aka the Snoopers' Charter — she had the first. She publicly announced what the law would be called during the official opening of Parliament after last year's general election. A first draft of the Investigatory Powers Bill was published six months later, alongside a confession that successive British governments had been issuing secret directives to telcos to intercept their users' communications. Many were pleased such secret surveillance was now being more explicitly codified. Theresa May — then Home Secretary — claimed that it only introduced the one new power: "requiring communications service providers to retain internet connection records when given a notice by the Secretary of State". But this was disputed by civil liberties campaigners. Legal challenges against the bill are already under way, with members of the Don't Spy on Us coalition continuing their involvement in legal action against the proposed mass surveillance powers. The organisation notes: The UK’s legal regime for bulk surveillance is being challenged in two separate cases at the ECHR, while the data retention regime is being questioned in the UK and EU courts in the Watson (previously Watson-Davis) challenge. We expect both courts to place further demands for safeguards and restraints on the highly permissive UK surveillance regime. There has never existed a single law regarding data retention powers in the UK which has not, in some form or another, been amended due to a legal challenge. Popular opposition to the law has already provoked over 133,000 citizens to sign a petition calling for its repeal, and although that is unlikely to happen, the petition's motion must now be considered by Parliament. Those who campaigned against the legislation are disappointed. Bella Sankey, the Policy Director for Liberty, described today as "a sad day for our democracy." She added: "The Home Secretary is right that the Government has a duty to protect us, but these measures won't do the job. Instead they open every detail of every citizen's online life up to state eyes, drowning the authorities in data and putting innocent people's personal information at massive risk." Sankey added: "This new law is world-leading – but only as a beacon for despots everywhere. The campaign for a surveillance law fit for the digital age continues, and must now move to the courts." Jim Killock, exec director at digital rights campaigner the Open Rights Group, agreed: "Amber Rudd says the Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation. She is right; it is one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy. Its impact will be felt beyond the UK as other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance regimes." He continued: "Although there are some improvements to oversight, the Bill will mean the police and intelligence agencies have unprecedented powers to surveil our private communications and Internet activity, whether or not we are suspected of a crime. Theresa May has finally got her snoopers' charter and democracy in the UK is the worse for it." ® Sponsored: Customer Identity and Access Management

Creaking Royal Navy is ‘first-rate’ thunders irate admiral

He's bound to say that.

Truth is, it'll get worse before it gets better Comment Admiral Sir Philip Jones, head of the Royal Navy, has written how "you'd be forgiven for thinking that the RN had packed up and gone home" in response to the kicking the naval service has received in the press recently. In an open letter published on the RN website, the admiral wrote: "Sadly the world is less certain and less safe.

But our sense of responsibility has not changed.

The Royal Navy may be smaller than in the past but has a strong future so this is no time to talk the Navy down." On 21 November the Defence Select Committee published a swingeing report into naval procurement, which concluded: "The MoD is embarking on a major modernisation of the Royal Navy surface fleet. Notwithstanding the Committee's concerns that the number of ships is at a dangerous and an historic low, it is a programme which has the potential to deliver a modern navy with a broad range of capabilities." Meanwhile, HMS Duncan, a Type 45 air-defence destroyer, had to be towed back into port after her unreliable Rolls-Royce WR-21 engines* broke down, as they tend to do on all Type 45s with worrying frequency – so much so that the RN has started a dedicated initiative, Project Napier, to add extra diesel generators to the Type 45 fleet.

This involves cutting large holes in the hull of each ship. Royal Fleet Auxiliary** tanker Wave Knight, currently deployed on Atlantic Patrol Tasking (North) in the Caribbean on anti-drugs patrol duties, broke down in St Vincent with Prince Harry aboard.

APT(N) used to be carried out by an actual warship rather than a refuelling tanker, but cuts to destroyer and frigate numbers left the Navy with no option. Last year a naval offshore patrol vessel, normally employed to stop and search fishermen's boats and their catches, was trialled on APT(N). A few weeks ago it was revealed that the RN will, from 2018, be left without any anti-ship missiles on its frigates and destroyers. Then there's the Type 26 frigate programme, which continues to stagnate as MoD officials lock horns with vastly more experienced BAE Systems negotiators over contracts.

The Type 26s are planned to partly replace the UK's current fleet of thirteen Type 23 anti-submarine frigates.

There will be fewer Type 26s than Type 23s, however, with the final five Type 23s set to be replaced with Type 31 "general purpose frigates", a cheap 'n' cheerful concept intended primarily for export.

The government, having initially pledged a like-for-like replacement of Type 23 with Type 26, later changed tack and cut the planned order of Type 26s, presumably because of the spiralling costs. A perfect storm for the naval service So what did the First Sea Lord have to say in defence of the RN? Type 45 destroyers are "hugely innovative" and "money is now in place to put this right".
Indeed, "if they weren't up to the job then the US and French navies would not entrust them with protection of their aircraft carriers in the Gulf." A strong point: for all their electrical flaws, the Type 45s are world-leading air-defence destroyers. The Harpoon anti-ship missile was cut partly because it "was reaching the end of its life" – though the admiral's attempt to claim that last month's Unmanned Warrior robot naval boat exercise featured anything capable of replacing a dedicated anti-ship capability was fanciful at best and downright disingenuous at worst.

That said, the admiral is duty bound, for better or for worse, not to embarrass his elected political masters. Admiral Jones also mentioned the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and their F-35B fighter jet air wing, due to enter service in a few years.

As previously reported on El Reg, the F-35 will not be ready for true carrier deployment for another five years minimum and even when it is, we won't own enough of them to put to sea without borrowing half the fast air wing from the US Marines. Moreover, each carrier will need, at the very least, both a frigate and a destroyer as escorts; the frigate to detect submarines, the destroyer to maintain an anti-aircraft screen. Will we be able to spare these two ships from all the other standing tasks, let alone training and maintenance requirements? On the whole, the Royal Navy is in very poor shape.
It cannot meet all its standing patrol tasks (as detailed in the Defence Select Committee report) without resorting to small patrol vessels and mostly civilian tankers to do so.

The Fleet Air Arm will not be a credible force capable of deploying overseas at even minimal strength (12 F-35Bs) until the middle of the next decade.

The frigate force is capable but ageing and due for retirement soon.

The destroyer fleet will be plagued by engine problems for another five years. On the other hand, the carriers will enter service.

F-35B will enter service.

Type 26 will start entering service from the mid-2020s.

The RFA will receive its new Tide-class replenishment ships to support the carriers.

Three new offshore patrol vessels are under construction and will be delivered in the next few years. New nuclear deterrent submarines are now under construction and will enter service in the coming years.
In terms of fighting strength, ability to put to sea and ensure freedom of navigation and lawful commerce, the Navy will improve. The tough part is that we will not hit rock bottom and start climbing out of this well of impotence for at least the next three years. What those three years bring – Brexit, more Russian sabre-rattling, possibly even a new Middle East flashpoint – could stretch the RN to breaking point or even beyond. While the First Sea Lord has publicly defended his service, ultimately it is the politicians of all flavours who starved the Navy of the funding for new ships and equipment that it desperately needed ten years ago, leading to today's situation where so many demoralised personnel have left that ship deployments were lengthened from six to nine months. The next time the Defence Secretary pops up to recycle tired old announcements that amount to nothing new, remember that. ® Bootnotes *The two gas turbines themselves are OK – it is the intercooler-recuperator assembly which lets them down.

Briefly, the intercooler-recuperator recovers heat from the turbines' exhausts and uses it to pre-heat the fuel/air mixture being fed into the engine.

This reduces wasted heat while increasing fuel efficiency and electrical output.

Due to a design flaw, the intercooler-recuperator tends to drop out without warning when operating in warmer waters (reportedly as low as 30C).

The sudden spike in electrical demand overwhelms the ship's two auxiliary Wärtsilä diesel generators and causes the entire electrical system, propulsion, weapons and all, to trip out, leaving the destroyer dead in the water as frantic marine engineers rush to reset it all. **The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is a uniformed but civilian branch of the naval service. Officially classed as civil servants sailing civilian-registered British ships, their personnel man the tankers, replenishment ships and general duties vessels, which increasingly find themselves used as actual warships, such as on the APT(N) deployment or as the mothership for the British minehunter contingent in the Persian Gulf. Sponsored: Customer Identity and Access Management

'Snoopers' Charter' Set To Become Law In UK

Surveillance bill goes through British Parliament and awaits only the Royal assent to become law before the year ends. 'Snoopers’ Charter,' officially knows as The Investigatory Powers Bill, is all set to become law before the year ends after it was passed by the British Parliament and awaits the Queen’s stamp of approval, The Register reports. The bill, which is widely regarded as being the most stringent of its kind, had its first draft published in November 2015 and was passed by both Houses of Parliament with the Labour Party abstaining. Under the new legislation, Internet service providers will have to store a back-up of the browsing activities of their users for 12 months and make it available to authorities whenever needed. It will also legalize offensive hacking and bulk collection of personal data by the authorities, despite concerns that this could lead to flaws being exploited to reveal more data than required. This law will legalize what the British government had secretly been doing all along, Prime Minister Theresa May conceded when publishing the first draft. Read full story here. Dark Reading's Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio More Insights