In space (and Afghanistan) no one can hear you scream

Mockup of Solar Eagle Drone

Further evidence of the rise of research into unmanned military systems in British universities comes with the news that engineers from Newcastle University are part of a team working on a giant solar powered surveillance drone for the US military.

The  Solar Eagle drone which is being built by US arms giant Boeing and funded by the Pentagon’s research agency, DARPA , is being designed to fly at an altitude of 18km for five years nonstop. Engineers from Newcastle University’s Centre for Advanced Electrical Drives have worked previously with UK arms giant QinetiQ on the Zephyr drone (see report here) and this work will presumably form the basis of work on this new drone.


An altitude of 18km however, is nothing for the USAF’s unmanned space plane which took off for another secret mission last week (5th March). While NASA normally builds and tests US space vehicles, the USAF is running the show for their unmanned space drone. The USAF’s X-37B, called the Orbital Test Vehicle will stay in orbit for up to 270 days, according to Air Force officials.  Little is known about the purpose or budget for the unmanned space drone but speculation is rife on the blogosphere.

Meanwhile, drone strikes have returned with a vengeance in Pakistan after the recent ‘pause’ attributed to the arrest of Raymond Davis. In the past week reported strikes took place on Tues 8th, Fri 11th and Sunday 13th

No doubt US and British military drone strikes continue as well in Afghanistan although these remain unreported.  The silence from the mainstream media on this is becoming deafening.

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