Gaia Community

compassion, collaboration & cooperation iN transistion

  Project Linesman was one of the main reasons why West Drayton became

  the site of the UK Air Traffic Control Centre. Linesman was designed to be

  the hub of the Air Defence Environment. The Initial Concept was formulated

  in the 1950s at the height of the Cold war and was for threat assessment and

  communication that could launch retaliation against a nuclear attack from  

  the USSR.

  Linesman would collate data from the East Coast of England and 

  Continental radars via telephone lines and pass on the information to

  Air Defence Chiefs at West Drayton and strategic bomber stations.

  The Vulnerability of L1 to air attack was recognised and second

  underground site L2 was planned, but never built. As the system 

  requirement evolved, along with computing methodology, so costs and

  timescales escalated. In an attempt to control these, the then Labour

  Government took the decision in 1962 to combine the civil and military

  control sites and a prototype system was installed in building 123 in 1963.

  Buildings were completed in 1965 and in 1969 contracts were awarded to

  Plessey for military radar data processing and to Marconi for a display

  system and civil flight data processing. RAF controller and their equipment

  were to be housed in L1 with the civil complex in the adjoining LATCC.

  Thankfully Linesman was never used in anger, but it did provide a service

  for exercises and training fighters controllers, and was utilised for the

  purpose of my own training as a Joint Civil/Military Area Radar Controller

 The first Civil Flight Data Processing system installed in LATCC in 1967

 was based on a Ferranti HERMES computer. The software contained

 representations of the airway and link structure, reporting points, wind

 data and Heathrow runway in use - all on a storage capacity of only 8k of

 24 bit words, later upgraded to 32k. Operational support was provided by

 offline bureau and program development test computers. This system,

 referred to as MEDIATOR, provide procedural flight control for the first

 LATCC ATCOs as Stage 1/2 of the FDP project that would eventually lead

 to all civil ATC for England and Wales [BE]ing located at West Drayton.

 All MEDIATOR input was made by ATSAs at teletypewriters in the Data

 Extraction cell, who got their information from teleprinter tapes or

 telephones. Output from MEDIATOR was in the form of flight strips that were

 printed at a central location, machine-loaded into holders and distributed to

 sector controllers by ATSAs. The HERMES computers remained in service until

 1976 when they were eventually replaced by the 9020D complex.

 Southern Radar from Sopley moved to West Drayton in 1974, followed by

 Western Radar from Aberporth. By now both civilian and military air traffic 

 levels were increasing and, in order to improve safe and efficient use of the

 South East air space , SEJAO was inaugurated with military and civil ATCOs

 working side by side in the newly commissioned CASOR. Fairly rapidly over

 the next few years the number of SEJAO sectors expanded from four to eight

 and the title changed to LIAO. When the Linesman system became operational

 the first people to use it were the School of Fighter Control, who moved from

 RAF Bawdsey in 1974. Then in 1975, the ADGE Examining Board 9 ...

 "the dreaded Trappers" moved in from Bentley Priory. Both these lodgers

 stayed until 1990.

 During the operational lifetime of LATCC, that is from taking control of the

 UK Civil Air Traffic from SCATCC until TC took executive control at Swanick,   

 it handled a total of 48,206,332 movements, ALL of THIS with NO ATC

 attributable ACCIDENT! • a very remarkable achievement that is a fitting

 tribute to all who had worked at West Drayton over the years.



Views: 52

Comment by Michael Grove on November 28, 2018 at 12:57

"Uncle Sam wants you” instructed posters plastered across the US during the First World War. Now, the Western world is fighting a war that exists largely in the digital realm, and it's Silicon Valley giants that are the latest recruits to be drafted in by the top brass.

It's an awkward pairing for an industry known for its largely liberal political stance. “Battles and wars have been won or lost based upon either bad, no or late information,” Brigadier General David Krumm declared at industry conference on the US military’s cloud computing infrastructure held in Virginia earlier this year. 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who is believed to be the favourite

to win the JEDI contract, is unapologetic about his involvement. 

“One of the jobs of a senior leadership team is to make the right

decision even when it is unpopular,” he told an audience in San

Francisco earlier this month. “This is a great country – it needs to

be defended.”

Google isn't as firm in its resolve. The company pulled out of the running for JEDI just ahead of the deadline, citing ethical concerns following pressure from staff. It also attempted to appease concerns by releasing principles for use of its artificial intelligence tools. That's not to say, however, that similar military deals are now off the table for Google. CEO Sundar Pichai last week made it clear that employee politics did not impact its decisions. “Throughout Google’s history we have given our employees a lot of voice and say but we don’t run the company by holding referendums [sic],” he said when quizzed at Wired magazine’s 25th birthday party in San Francisco. 

Pichai added that Google hoped to “work with the military many times” because ultimately Google cherishes its values “but we can enjoy that because of the way our country is defended”. Pichai’s patriotism may have had something to do with Bezos’ comments hours earlier. When asked to defend his stance on JEDI, he aimed shots at Google stating: “If big tech companies turn their back on the Department of Defense then this country is in trouble”.

Cynics accuse those turning their backs of sour grapes. Many of the big names eyeing up the JEDI contract are suspicious that the Department of Defense has just one contender in mind: Amazon. The application information is strict on certain certifications that only Amazon could currently fulfill, rivals claim. 

Within days of Google pulling out for “ethical reasons”, IBM and Oracle both launched public protests over the tendering process accusing the military of moving the goalposts, stifling competition and, the strongest allegation of all, putting people’s lives at risk.

Sam Gordy, IBM’s military contract chief wrote in a blog post:    

“No business in the world would build a cloud the way JEDI would and then lock in to it for a decade. JEDI turns its back on the preferences of Congress and the administration, is a bad use of taxpayer dollars and was written with just one company in mind. America’s warfighters deserve better”.

Microsoft has submitted a bid despite an open letter anonymously signed by people claiming to be employees. But what is strange about JEDI is the objections to the deal were made to it without anyone knowing exactly the contract would entail. So what does the government intend to do with it?



Comment by Michael Grove on December 10, 2018 at 10:06

The latest air-to-air missiles in the RAF's armoury have been flown operationally for the first time. The MoD has confirmed that in response to an incident last Wednesday, RAF Typhoon jets equipped with the new Meteor missile launched in defence of UK airspace. RAF Typhoons maintain a constant state of readiness to defend the sovereignty of British skies. Quick Reaction Alert jets based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland are regularly  scrambled to deter Russian aircraft approaching UK airspace over the North Sea.

The exact nature of last week's incident remained classified.

The introduction of Meteor represents the culmination of many years of research, development and testing to bring the advanced weapon into service on front-line aircraft.

The Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: “This latest missile system demonstrates the next chapter of the Typhoon which will see the jet evolve its ability to target and destroy any airborne threat at great distances.

“The Meteor missile will provide an unrelenting deterrence to those who wish harm upon the UK and our Armed Forces. The RAF’s prized Typhoon Force is unquestionably now the cornerstone of British and Nato military power. It has proved itself in combat roles over Libya, Iraq and Syria, protecting UK skies and overseas territories, and providing critical support to our NATO Allies in Eastern Europe.”

Meteor can fly in any weather condition at over four times the speed of sound. It has been designed to defeat all current and known future threats, including combat aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles or missiles. The range of the weapon is classified, but it will eventually operate from the F-35 Lightning stealth jet.

The missile - weighing 185kgs and measuring 3.7m long - uses an air-breathing ramjet to boost the weapon away from the launch aircraft. It then remains under power until warhead detonation, giving the missile the energy to pursue and destroy the fastest and most agile aircraft. The warhead carries impact and proximity fuses so targets can be destroyed even if the missile does not score a direct hit.

The pilot flying the first Meteor equipped Typhoon said: “The responsibility of flying such a capable platform, armed with this formidable weapon is immense, but the options this gives us in responding to an emergency situation cannot be understated.”

Meteor has been developed by a six-nation European partnership led by the UK. It is built and manufactured by MBDA in Stevenage and has created 430 jobs across the country. The Meteor programme partners include the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden.

Comment by Michael Grove on February 25, 2019 at 16:26

Based at RAF Brampton, Cambridgeshire, from 1957 to 2013, JARIC was the UK's national strategic imagery intelligence provider. In the immediate postwar years one of its major tasks was the plotting and analysis of captured German Air Force reconnaissance photography. What had not been destroyed, or captured by the Soviets, was discovered in several locations by the Allies and shipped back to the UK. The joint UK/US work on this imagery provided unique intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the early Cold War years before the advent of satellite imagery.

Comment by Michael Grove on March 8, 2019 at 10:44

  The real threat to global peace is developing in the Indian sub-con...


Even as Donald Trump arrived in Vietnam for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un about his nuclear programme, a far greater threat to global peace was developing in the Indian sub-continent.

Two week ago, a murderous terrorist attack by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants based in Pakistani-run Kashmir killed 40 Indian troops. The Indians responded by bombing the JeM training camp, risking a clash with the Pakistani air force which was scrambled in response. The strikes are the first launched across the line of control since the 1971 war.

Kashmir has long been a flash point between the two nuclear powers but the bellicose rhetoric attached to the latest stand-off is especially worrying. In India, the BJP government of Narendra Modi has been under pressure from its Hindu nationalist supporters to hit back and, with an election due by May, does not want to appear weak. This is being replicated in Pakistan, which has promised to retaliate “at a time and place of its choosing”. Once such a pledge has been made it would be hard for the relatively new prime minister Imran Khan not to follow it through.

If Pakistan is offering a safe haven to JeM then they should dismantle the camps and ensure this is done in a verifiable way. Equally, however, it is reckless of the BJP to use the prospect of Indian elections to continue actions that can only invite a response from Islamabad.

Western leaders preoccupied with other matters should take some time off to consider the geopolitics of the sub-continent and see if their good offices can reduce tensions and help avert what risks becoming a calamitous conflict.

Add a Comment

You need to be a member of Gaia Community to add comments!

Join Gaia Community

© 2019   Created by Michael Grove.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service