Too Friendly in Farnborough?
Posted by democratist on July 19, 2010
19th July 2010
Democratist has been enjoying yet another fine example of Russia Today’s extraordinary cynicism, and more broadly of the inability of the Russian arms industry to come up with the sort of goods the country desperately needs if it is serious about fully re-establishing itself as even a regional military player over the next decade.
Taking a break from its usual tactic of promoting conspiracy theory as a propaganda tool (a technique employed since at least as far back as the Okhrana’s involvement in the forgery, and subsequent promotion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in 1903 – later used to scapegoat Jews for Russia’s defeat in the 1904-05 war with Japan – and much else), RT has been indulging in another tried-and-tested approach; the promotion of apparently “pacifist” causes in Western countries in a (weak and usually unsuccessful) attempt to enhance Russia’s own position.
Thus today we read on RT’s website a summary of a report criticizing the United State’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) and stating that the “drone” industry (expected to be worth $55 bn within a few years) “…is booming internationally… raising fears it will lead to increased warfare. Activists claim the cheap and easy access to the weapons could also potentially harm innocent civilians.”
The article continues in a similarly outraged vein, “Demonstrators outside CIA headquarters at the start of the year protested against indiscriminate killings by unmanned weaponry. They say that rather than winning wars, drones merely make more enemies by killing mostly innocent people, thus fuelling, rather than quelling, insurgencies.”
All of which strikes Democratist as rather odd: After all, only three weeks’ ago the channel proudly featured a report from a military expo that took place near Moscow (overseen by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin), promoting the achievements of Russia’s arms industry, and which noted that;
“Over 60 prototypes of tanks and military vehicles, UAVs are on display…The forum is being held for the first time and the main idea behind it is to promote Russia’s ever-growing weapons industry to the global market…The arms trade is an especially large business in Russia. The country is currently the second-biggest exporter of arms in the world after the US, with about 23 per cent of the market… In 2009, over US$8.5 billion worth of weapons were sold. This year it is hoped there will be more.”
So, on June 30th Russian-made weapons, including UAV-prototypes are great, but by 19th July they threaten “increased warfare” and “fuel insurgencies”.
What could possibly have changed?
Could it be that the Russian arms industry (which is apparently lagging considerably in its ability to produce and deploy an effective UAV) didn’t quite get the orders/investment they hoping for their prototypes and are now promoting this story via RT in the (very unlikely) hope that domestic pressure in countries such as the US or UK will somehow stifle the acquisition and ongoing development of competing models until they get their act together?
Surely it is entirely coincidental that today also marks the first day of the UK’s bi-annual Farnborough Air show, where many such UAV sales might be agreed?
One thing is for sure, if Democratist was working on the development of a new Unmanned Combat Air vehicle (UCAV), such as BAE’s new Taranis project (due to start flight trials in 2011) we would be currently pushing for a greatly increased focus on personnel vetting and enhanced internal security procedures – with some urgency (no matter how good they already happen to be).
The confluence of a humiliated SVR looking to salvage their reputation within the nomenklatura (after the “reset” spy scandal), and the pronounced need for rapid technical advance in this area for the Russian military, indicates that the current likelihood of an attempt to penetrate such companies may be very high indeed.