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The MQ-9 Reaper drone in flight

British drones target ISIS for the first time

The RAF has launched its first drone strikes against Islamic fundamentalists ISIS, marking an escalation of Blighty's air war in Iraq. A British Reaper drone attacked a terrorist encampment near Bayji, north of Baghdad, where militants were planting improvised explosive devices. It then circled the area, providing real-time …
Jasper Hamill, 11 Nov 2014

RAF graduates first class of new groundbased 'pilots'

The Royal Air Force is chuffed this week to announce the graduation of its first class of "remotely piloted air system pilots", who have the job of piloting aircraft they are not actually in. 'Differ only slightly' from the normal ones. Visually, anyway As regular readers of these pages will know, the RAF (with some …
Lewis Page, 04 Apr 2013
Lancaster B.I PA474. Credit: John5199, Flickr

World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs

Aviation history is being made in Lincolnshire today as the only two airworthy Avro Lancasters in the world met up at RAF Coningsby this afternoon. The two World War II bombers – one operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWHM), the other by the RAF's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) – are due to rendezvous …
Gareth Corfield, 08 Aug 2014
The Register breaking news

RAF Eurofighter Typhoons 'beaten by Pakistani F-16s'

Pakistani pilots flying modernised versions of the 1970s-vintage F-16 Falcon fighter have beaten the RAF's brand-new Eurofighter Typhoon superfighters during air combat exercises in Turkey, according to a Pakistani officer. Eurofighter Typhoon trainer (two seat) in flight. Credit: MoD Costs like a Raptor, flies like a Tornado …
Lewis Page, 08 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

RAF Eurofighters make devastating attack – on Parliament

The RAF has blown up two apparently abandoned Libyan tanks using a Eurofighter Typhoon jet in a move which appears to have been motivated more by Whitehall infighting than by any attempt to battle the forces of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The following video was released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday afternoon, less …
Lewis Page, 15 Apr 2011
The Register breaking news

Stolen RAF files are blackmailer's dream

Information stolen from the RAF last September included detailed information on the private lives of senior staff, including drug abuse, problems with alcohol and extra-marital affairs, it has been revealed. The unencrypted hard drives were stolen from a base in Gloucestershire in September last year. At the time we were told it …
John Oates, 26 May 2009
The Register breaking news

Major helicopter reorganisation for RAF and Navy

The Labour government has announced significant changes at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), whose effect will be to put more resources into the Afghan war while nonetheless cutting spending overall - largely by reductions to parts of the RAF not engaged in the fighting. However, there is also a major reshuffle of helicopters among …
Lewis Page, 15 Dec 2009
The Register breaking news

Air Marshal: RAF may not have to be disbanded

Yesterday, reporting on the Ministry of Defence green paper issued this week, we referenced a news item in which the UK's top serviceman, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, reportedly said it was "plausible" that Britain might in future have just two armed services rather than three. It has now emerged that this was in error. …
Lewis Page, 05 Feb 2010
The Register breaking news

Crash grounds RAF Eurofighters - for Battle of Britain Day!

The RAF was left eggfaced in recent weeks as its entire force of fighters - nowadays made up of new and horrifyingly expensive Eurofighter "Typhoons" - was grounded following discovery of faults in their ejector seats. The grounding was particularly embarrassing as it came into force on Battle of Britain Day, the 70th …
Lewis Page, 21 Sep 2010
The 'Little Nellie' autogyro used in the Bond film 'You Only Live Twice', with designer Ken Wallis at the controls

Autogyro legend Ken Wallis hangs up wings at 97

Wing Commander Ken Wallis, who soared to international fame at the controls of James Bond's Little Nellie, has died at the age of 97. The former RAF Wellington bomber pilot passed away at his home in Norfolk on Sunday, the end of an illustrious career which saw him set the 3km speed record for autogyros (207.7km/h), and - most …
Lester Haines, 05 Sep 2013
The Register breaking news

MoD prays RAF disk thieves aren't data savvy

Personal details of potentially all current and ex-RAF personnel and dependents were stored on three USB-connected storage drives which went missing from a Ministry of Defence establishment at Innsworth, Gloucestershire. Both the MoD police and Gloucester Police are investigating a presumed theft. A statement from the MoD said …
Chris Mellor, 29 Sep 2008
The Register breaking news

New RAF transport plane is 'Euro-w*nking makework project'

A peer and former defence minister has described the A400M military transport plane - which is being bought by the cash-strapped UK armed forces for a secret but outrageous amount of money - as a "Euro-wanking make-work project" in the written Parliamentary record. Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders and the A400M Programme …
Lewis Page, 19 Nov 2010
The Register breaking news

No more Eurofighters for RAF, despite 232-jet pact

A senior RAF officer has stated unequivocally that the British government considers itself under no obligation to buy any more Eurofighter/Typhoon jet fighters. The statement would seem to confirm that no more will in fact be bought: but the taxpayer may yet spend billions more on upgrading the existing RAF fleet. Eurofighter …
Lewis Page, 21 Aug 2009
Anthony Wedgwood Benn MP

Tony Benn, daddy of Brit IT biz ICL and pro-tech politician, dies at 88

Tony Benn, the modernising Labour MP who tried to pit British technology against US giants has died at the age of 88. It was Benn, a minister in two Labour governments during the 1960s and 1970s, who created ICL (International Computers Limited) to take on the growing might of IBM. It was mainframes at dawn in the post-war …
Gavin Clarke, 14 Mar 2014
The Register breaking news

RAF strafes Next in pirated duvet copyright rumpus

The Royal Air Force is suing a high-street shopping chain for violating its intellectual property rights. A range of duvets and other bedroom stuff marketed at young boys feature red-white-and-blue roundels, and this has Her Majesty's flyboys up in arms (as it were). Various UK media report that the Ministry of Defence has …
Lewis Page, 12 Jun 2008
Sea Harriers

Kingston's aviation empire: From industry firsts to Airfix heroes

He learned to fly aged 22, set up his first aircraft factory aged 24 and by 30 his fighters dominated the skies over the Western Front. Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith - later, Sir – founded the Sopwith Aircraft Company in 1912, turning out aeroplanes from a Edwardian roller-skating rink in Kingston upon Thames. Yes, the …
Gavin Clarke, 24 Oct 2014
The Register breaking news

Can Fox break the power of Army, Navy, RAF chiefs?

Last week, the Defence Secretary announced the publication of the Levene report into the way the UK Ministry of Defence is run: and Dr Fox stated that he agrees with all the recommendations it makes. The MoD has formally announced that it "will publish a blueprint setting out all the major changes the Department is embarked on …
Lewis Page, 04 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

RAF admin system takes off

RAF personnel, frustrated with having their pay messed up by a new computer system, can relax after seven weeks of errors and uncertainty. The Ministry of Defence is expected to announce later today that its stalled RAF administration system is finally running along nicely, allowing personnel to "self-service" their own human …
Mark Ballard, 15 May 2006
The Register breaking news

Air chief: UK should have RAF astronaut

The head of the Royal Air Force (RAF) has said the UK should have a manned space programme, and that his organisation should provide astronauts. Flight International reports that Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy expressed his views at a big dinner in London this week. The good marshal apparently felt that the lure of …
Lewis Page, 19 Oct 2007
The Register breaking news

Prince William 'day with my chopper' pics reveal more than intended

The UK's Ministry of Defence was obliged to reset user names and passwords following the publication of pictures of the Duke of Cambridge at work on a military base. Four of the 10 pictures, released by St James's Palace, showed Prince William at work at RAF Valley but failed to blur or disguise sensitive information in …
John Leyden, 21 Nov 2012
The Register breaking news

RAF's new military airlifter finally lumbers into the air

Another doleful milestone for British taxpayers and servicemen today, as the A400M military transport plane takes to the air for its first test flight. The A400M - a decade late and massively overbudget - continues to drain the UK's defence coffers though better alternatives are readily available: meanwhile our fighting troops …
Lewis Page, 11 Dec 2009
The Register breaking news

Most expensive RAF aircraft ever takes to the skies

The most expensive aircraft ever built for the British armed forces, a painstakingly-restored De Havilland Comet airliner outfitted as an anti-submarine patrol plane, has made its first flight. The Nimrod MRA4 on the ground. Credit: BAE Systems The 1940s* aeroplane that WOULD NOT DIE. The Nimrod MRA4 programme was initiated …
Lewis Page, 14 Sep 2009
The Register breaking news

RAF builds massively multiplayer flight sims

A UK defence initiative hopes to link up military flight simulators in the US and UK , allowing British pilots to train for complex multi-aircraft missions together with their American counterparts across the pond. Front line aircrew are now involved in the experimental phase of the £7.8m Mission Training through Distributed …
Lewis Page, 24 May 2007
The Register breaking news

RAF sergeant bought stripes on eBay

Newly-promoted RAF sergeants are being forced to buy their stripes on eBay after a cost-cutting "bungle" left the proud NCOs without a proper supply of the essential badge of rank, the Sun reports. One chap from RAF Valley in Anglesey apparently shelled out £4.99 to a private seller because there were no stripes available in …
Lester Haines, 03 Sep 2004
The Register breaking news

Navy glovepuppets minister in carrier battle against RAF

The UK's plan to build new aircraft carriers remains under threat, and ongoing attempts by the RAF to shut down the Harrier jumpjet force - eviscerating the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm - have yet to be resolved. However, the RN has managed to manoeuvre a Defence minister into endorsing the view that Britain has needed proper …
Lewis Page, 17 Feb 2009
The Register breaking news

RAF fighters intercept 'silent' Jumbo

Two RAF fighters last Friday intercepted a Manchester-bound Boeing 747 after it failed to respond to air traffic controllers, the BBC reports. Pakistan Airlines flight PK 709 - carrying 81 passengers plus crew - should have made contact with controllers as it entered UK airspace. Air traffic controllers in Maastricht lost touch …
Lester Haines, 19 Nov 2004

Reg man bested in geek-to-geek combat - in World War 3 nerve centre

During the Cold War, Neatishead in Norfolk was theoretically the worst place in the UK to live: the nearby RAF base would be target Number One if the Russians nuked us. This was brought home to me in a guided tour by a retired officer, whose old job was to run Blighty’s air defence. Standing in the 1980s-era Cold War control …
Dominic Connor, 28 Mar 2013
The Register breaking news

RAF in plot against Fleet Air Arm again

In a bizarre repeat of history, reports have it that the Royal Air Force is once again seeking to take over the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy - a sure sign that the economy really is in desperate trouble. Just as it has meant more than once in the past, a successful RAF bid to grab a greater share of the taxes in tough …
Lewis Page, 08 Dec 2008
The Register breaking news

Patrick Moore: Lived with cats, accompanied Einstein on the piano

A nobleman among geeks, the great stargazer Patrick Moore passed away yesterday at the age of 89. Born in 1923, the great man racked up many geek accolades in his long career of star watching, contributing to the NASA moon landings and holding the world record for the longest running TV show with the same presenter for his 55 …
Anna Leach, 10 Dec 2012
Guinevere gets a clean

Suffering satellites! Goonhilly's ARTHUR REBORN for SPAAAACE

Big data? Pah. Arthur is big hardware. He weighs in at 1,118 tonnes, has a diameter of 25.9 metres and is 52 years old. From his home, a high plateau on Cornwall’s remote Lizard peninsula – as far south as you can go on the island of Great Britain without falling off – he has played his part in Space Age history, appropriate …
SA Mathieson, 25 Nov 2014
fingers pointing at man

EDS's RAF pay system struggles to take off

RAF personnel have spent the last six weeks pulling their hair out over problems with pay and benefits brought about by the bodged implementation of an EDS computer system. Since it went live at the end of March, thousands have been on the receiving end of processing errors in the payroll system. Instigated by the Armed Forces …
Mark Ballard, 09 May 2006
The Register breaking news

Digi-TV box bid to signal alien invasion blocked by RAF choppers

A two hour RAF rescue operation in the Portsmouth area earlier this month finally traced the source of a distress call to a "faulty" digital TV set-top box. Suspicious? We should be - this may be our final opportunity to frustrate a Lizard Planet battlefleet timed to arrive for the terrestrial TV switch-off in 2012. Think about …
John Lettice, 15 Jan 2006
A tunnel

Boffin road trip! The Reg presents Geek's Guide to Britain

Which country is credited with designing more than half of the world’s most important inventions. Is it Germany, home of the VW? Japan, birthplace of the Walkman? The US, land of NASA and Google? No: Britain. Scientists, engineers, architects and inventors in Britain have made their mark on the world with trains, jet engines, …
Gavin Clarke, 21 Mar 2013
The Register breaking news

MoD rejects Gaddafi low-flying aircraft complaint

In a serious blow to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, the Ministry of Defence has moved to prevent the tyrant whining about low-flying RAF aircraft. We understand that over the weekend the dictator attempted to complain that Brit flyboys were putting a real downer on his day, but this is what happened when he tried to input the details …
Lester Haines, 21 Mar 2011
The Register breaking news

Brits trump Ruskies with flying horse

We're delighted to report that the RAF have shown Russian donkey dangler Vasily Gorobets - the man responsible for the Sea of Azov airborne ass - just how it's really done. Gorobets defiantly laughed in the face of international outrage at his asinine parasailing stunt, and declared: "I'm a hero. Nobody has ever flown a donkey …
Lester Haines, 28 Jul 2010
The Register breaking news

'System error' downed RAF Tornado

An RAF Tornado which was struck by a US Patriot missile while returning from a sortie over Iraq last year was downed by a 'system error', UK defence minister Ivor Caplin has admitted. In a written statement, Caplin said that there were several contributory factors which led to the deaths of crewmen Flt Lt Kevin Main and Flt Lt …
Lester Haines, 14 May 2004
de Havilland Sea Vixen

Mosquitoes, Comets and Vampires: The de Havilland Museum

Approaching the museum down a bumpy single track road you start wondering if any of this makes any sense. Why is this museum in the middle of nowhere? Why are the opening hours so peculiar? Why are there bits of aircraft lying around? Why does it have two different names? All becomes apparent in due course and in the process …
Ed Moore, 20 Dec 2013
Micro Men

Micro Men: The story of the syntax era

is an occasional column written at the crossroads where the arts, popular culture and technology intersect. Here we look back at the BBC TV movie Micro Men, a retro-tech fan favourite which tells the story of the rivalry between former colleagues Sir Clive Sinclair and Chris Curry, and how the two men kickstarted the British …
Tony Smith, 14 Feb 2014
The Register breaking news

Dam Busters dog dubbed 'Digger'

Scriptwriter Stephen Fry has announced he's successfully tackled the thorny problem of just what to call Guy Gibson's dog in Peter Jackson's upcoming remake of The Dam Busters. The mutt will be rebranded "Digger", Fry announced to the BBC, because "there is no question in America that you could ever have a dog called the N-word …
Lester Haines, 14 Jun 2011
Rebuilt Bombe Bletchley Park, photo copyrighted mubsta.com

Bletchley rebooted: The crypto factory time remembered

The Battle of Britain: it was won by the RAF and pilots in Hurricanes and Spitfires assisted by a new-fangled invention called radar that gave the enemy's position away. It was the first campaign of the World War II fought entirely in the air and was waged by Germany's Air Force, the Luftwaffe, against the UK's Royal Air Force ( …
Gavin Clarke, 20 Sep 2013
 Adastral Park, in Martlesham, Ipswich - the epicentre of BT's research, technology and IT operations.

Inside Adastral: BT's Belgium-sized broadband boffinry base

Adastral Park is BT’s global research and development centre, one of the world’s most pioneering centres of technology and telecommunications. Like other visitors to the area, I’ve gazed at the Le Corbusier-inspired building and its iconic tower cube rising out of the surrounding flat Suffolk farmland. It announces its …
Dave Wilby, 26 Mar 2013
Sea King lifts horse from mud. Pic: RAF

Spending watchdog SAVAGES rural broadband push

The government's crashingly expensive rural broadband deployment project has failed to demonstrate that it represents value for money to Britain's taxpayers, the National Audit Office concluded today in a scathing report. Just last week, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is steering the Broadband Delivery UK ( …
Kelly Fiveash, 05 Jul 2013
The Register breaking news

Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet creator Gerry Anderson dies at 83

Gerry Anderson, creator of classic children's television shows like Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Joe 90, has died at the age of 83. Anderson, in conjunction with his then-wife Sylvia, pioneered the use of puppets that had solenoid motors built into them to move the eyes and mouth – later dubbed supermarionation. The wires …
Iain Thomson, 26 Dec 2012
The Register breaking news

Britain's Harrier jump-jets reprieved to fly and fight again

Blighty's famous force of Harrier jump-jets, controversially disposed of during last year's defence review along with the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers, have been reprieved: the radical vectored-thrust jets, believed by many to have been the best strike planes in Britain's arsenal, will fly (and almost certainly, fight) again. …
Lewis Page, 15 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Blighty battles Oz for stratospheric supremacy

The friendly rivalry between Brit and Oz amateur High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) enthusiasts hit new heights over the weekend when the two nations went head-to-head in a stratospheric clash of high-altitude titans. Raspberry Pi In The Sky chap Dave Akerman met his Antipodean opponent Mark Jessop in a Cambridgeshire field to …
Lester Haines, 11 Sep 2012
The Register breaking news

Canada buys Obama's reject Brit choppers for spare parts

Canada has snapped up a rejected fleet of US presidential helicopters, intending to break up the choppers for spare parts to keep its own search-and-rescue aircraft flying. The British forces may wish they had struck such a deal, as they too operate the "Merlin" copter in large numbers - and they too have severe difficulties in …
Lewis Page, 29 Jun 2011

I salute Lady THATCHER - Shoreditch's SILICON GODMOTHER

"No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had the majority of voting shares as well" - Motivational poster at Bong Ventures London HQ. I am dictating this sotto voce from the nerve centre of Operation True Blue at an undisclosed location in Whitehall STOP My assistant มาลัย (which means ' …
Steve Bong, 12 Apr 2013
The Register breaking news

UK's Reaper flying hunter-killer fleet 'to double'

The UK expects to double its fleet of "Reaper" robot hunter-killer aircraft, according to the machines' manufacturer. The MQ-9 Reaper drone in flight Better than a Tornado bomber. General Atomics, which developed the famous Predator drone warplane and its bigger successor the Predator-B/Reaper, announced last week that it is …
Lewis Page, 05 Apr 2011
SR-71 'Blackbird' testing. Pic: US Air Force

Spies in the sky: The leaps and bounds from balloons to spook sats

In just 230 years, humanity has progressed from its first faltering flights to the capability to photograph from space an object the size of a grapefruit - a testament both to technological progress and our need to keep a close eye on the world around us. The advancement of aerial surveillance and imaging has been driven in …
Lester Haines, 01 Mar 2013
The Register breaking news

Cameron: Carriers tomorrow, bombers today

Prime Minister David Cameron has at last announced the Coalition government's plan for sorting out the Ministry of Defence's finances. The RAF's deep-penetration bomber force will be preserved, and much of the Royal Navy's frigate and destroyer fleet: the cost of this is that there will be no jets able to fly from Royal Navy …
Lewis Page, 19 Oct 2010