Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/12/19/proposed_uk_star_wars_base/

Proposed UK star wars base ‘invents’ BMW death ray

There, they can hit something, after all...

By John Lettice

Posted in Mobile, 19th December 2002 16:28 GMT

It may not be all that successful at knocking out incoming missiles yet, but the US "son of star wars" missile defence programme has already - albeit accidentally - spawned a death ray that can knock out motor vehicles, reports today's Guardian. The UK government is currently thought poised to green light a US government request to base components of the defence system at RAF Fylingdales, already a noted US spook station on UK soil, so the prudent spooks are upgrading their security systems in preparation for the inevitable onslaught of peace campaigners.

But the local area surveillance technology involved is poleaxing cars, immobilising them and/or setting off their alarms. A local delivery driver tells the Graun that he's had to be towed out of the area three times in two weeks, and now keeps the engine running when he's on his rounds.

BMW, Mercedes and Jeep seem particularly sensitive to the effect - rival manufacturers might care to stake out the area with paparazzi and wait for the recovery vehicles.

The RAF is entirely unabashed by the vehicular death ray, claiming it's had the frequencies in question for years, and it's all the motor manufacturers' fault for not sticking properly to the ones they're supposed to be using. But given that this doesn't seem to have happened before in all those years, presumably the RAF has turned up the juice and/or has been straying nearer the borderline than before.

Which is good to know, isn't it, BMW drivers? If these new systems are going to be widely used in British military installations, then you'll quite possibly have to steer clear of all of them. And to do so, you'll have to acquire some working knowledge of where they are. Which could get you into trouble too. ®